Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings open here Monday at one of Disney’s resort hotels, and the televised event is one that might compel Marlins fans to hit the off switch on their remotes.
The trade of Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees is expected to be formally announced — signed, sealed and delivered to the Bronx for Starlin Castro and a pair of minor-league prospects.
It could be only the start of things to come over the next four days for the Marlins, who are trying to lower payroll to a manageable level and could very well trade off more players.
The Cardinals, who lost out in the Stanton sweepstakes when he snubbed the Redbirds by exercising his no-trade clause and refusing a deal to St. Louis, are reportedly after one of the Marlins’ two remaining outfielders, Marcell Ozuna.
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Ozuna, who is expected to make about $11 million next season through salary arbitration and has two years left before becoming eligible for free agency, is the likeliest of the two to be traded by the Marlins.
And unlike Stanton, whose onerous $295 million left on his contract weakened the return for the Marlins, Ozuna’s cost is such that the Marlins would likely receive a better haul in prospects.
Then there’s Castro, who might not ever wear a Marlins uniform.
The second baseman could be flipped in a follow-up trade so that the Marlins don’t have to pay him the $22 million he’s owed the next two seasons.
Other Marlins who could be dealt include relievers Brad Ziegler ($9 million next season) and Junichi Tazawa ($7 million). The Cardinals are thought to have interest in Ziegler.
▪ The Giants were prepared to give up pitcher Tyler Beede and catcher Aramis Garcia for Stanton, as well as pick up the bulk of his contract, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Were he still alive, the Marlins would likely be trying to trade Jose Fernandez — and finding no shortage of takers for the pitcher. Fernandez, who was killed in a boat crash toward the end of the 2016 season, was in line to become a free agent after the 2018 season.
Ralph Fernandez, a Tampa attorney and close family friend, said it was the pitcher’s hope to sign an extension with the Marlins, even if it meant receiving less money.
“He wasn’t leaving Miami,” Ralph Fernandez said in September on the one-year anniversary of the pitcher’s death. “I know for a fact he wouldn’t have signed elsewhere, I don’t care what anybody says.”
Had he signed a long-term deal under previous owner Jeffrey Loria, his contract might have come under scrutiny in new ownership’s efforts to balance the books, just as Stanton’s and Dee Gordon’s deals were.
If Fernandez hadn’t signed an extension and was one year away from free agency, the temptation would have been great to trade him just the same.
“Jose would have been the most marketable guy out there,” said one major-league scout, who asked that his name not be used. “You’re talking about one year left of the most dominant pitchers in the National League. You’d get some team’s No. 1 prospect for one year of Jose.”