When Marcell Ozuna was diagnosed with two dislocated fingers, and it was determined he would be out for at least six weeks, I planned to write an article on potential outfield targets for the Braves as the trade deadline approached when I returned from my Memorial Day vacation. Unfortunately, over the weekend, while I was thoroughly enjoying splashing countless amounts of golf balls into the Florida water, some disgusting news was discovered.
Marcell Ozuna was arrested for domestic violence, and it now appears highly unlikely that he will play again this season. Frankly, I find it very unlikely that he ever wears a Braves uniform again. While that’s not the most important factor regarding this case, the organization has to be prepping for life without Ozuna this season and in the future, which means they could be extremely active before the trade deadline. We’re still a couple of months away, but as of now, it looks like there will be plenty of options for Alex Anthopoulos to choose from.
The Diamondbacks have attempted to make a push to be competitive over the last couple of seasons, but it just hasn’t worked, and it doesn’t help matters when the three best teams in the National League — the Giants, Dodgers, and Padres — are in your division. Arizona currently owns the worst record in the NL (20-36) and is 15.5 games behind San Francisco for first place. They need to start thinking about a rebuild, and their best trade piece is Ketel Marte.
Marte is a versatile player that can be moved all over the diamond, but he’ll slot perfectly into the Braves outfield and provide much more offensively than Marcell Ozuna. In 2019, he was an All-Star and finished 4th in the MVP race after posting a .329 average and .981 OPS with 32 homers. He wasn’t as productive during the shortened 2020 campaign, but he’s off to an excellent start in 2021 despite suffering an injury that has forced him to miss over half the season. In 19 games, Marte is hitting .352 with three homers.
The most enticing part about Marte, though, is his contract. He’s under club control for no more than $12 million through 2024. This will make him expensive (prospect-wise), but given that the Braves could be on the hook for a large portion of Ozuna’s contract even if he doesn’t ever play again in Atlanta, Alex Anthopoulos needs to be in the market for high-quality, cost-controlled players, which is exactly what Marte is. Bringing him in would instantly make the Braves World Series contenders once again.
Trey Mancini really is one of the best stories in baseball. He battled through colon cancer, which caused him to miss the entire 2020 season, and is now back healthy doing what he does best — mashing baseballs. In 2019, Mancini hit 35 homers for the Orioles to the tune of an .899 OPS, and he’s off to a similar start this season, smashing 11 homers with an .878 OPS through 53 games.
According to Jon Heyman, the Braves were reportedly interested in acquiring Mancini via trade this past offseason before re-signing Marcell Ozuna. It didn’t appear as if the Orioles had much interest, but that certainly might have changed after their porous start. They currently have the worst record in baseball and should already be looking a couple of years down the road.
Mancini has one more year of arbitration left on his contract after 2021 before becoming a free agent. He would be an affordable left-fielder over the next season-and-a-half and could provide even more offensively than Ozuna. Mancini also probably wouldn’t cost nearly as much prospect-wise as a player like Marte.
A couple of years ago, the Mariners could have replenished their entire farm system by trading away Mitch Haniger. He was an All-Star and finished 11th in the 2018 AL MVP race, but injuries have impacted his value ever since. Haniger only played in 63 games in 2019 and missed the entire 2020 campaign. However, he’s bounced back well so far this season, posting the highest OPS+ of his entire carer (144), thanks in large part to his 14 homers in 53 games.
The Mariners have been hesitant to trade Haniger in the past, but as free agency approaches, the urgency to either win with him or move him rises. Right now, Seattle is right in the thick of the AL West race; however, I don’t expect that to be the case as we continue to inch towards the trade deadline. If Haniger can stay healthy and the Mariners can’t keep up in the division, I expect him to be one of the hotter candidates on the trade market come July.
I wouldn’t declare the Reds sellers just yet. There’s still plenty of time for them to turn it around, and they have some talent on their roster. However, if they keep losing and fall out of the playoff race, they have some pieces they could offload.
Nick Castellanos is a bat that contenders will be calling about. He’s leading the league in batting average (.361), thanks to a current 18-game hitting streak. That’s even more impressive when you consider Castellanos has never been a guy who hits for an incredibly high average. He’s a .278 career hitter and has never hit over .300 in a single season. There’s no disputing that Castellanos eventually regresses a little, but he has always been a threat with the bat. He had 14 long balls for the Reds in the shortened 60-game campaign and hit at least 23 homers in each season from 2017-2019.
Castellanos’ downfall has always been his defense, but that doesn’t matter as much when you’re raking the way he is now. The season could end today, and he would have already posted the best WAR of his career (2.9). This isn’t a player the Reds would like to part ways with, but since he has a player option in his contract after this season, they might not have a choice but to take what they can get for him if they continue to lose leading up to the trade deadline.
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