PHM's offseason plan

Last offseason, Salazar for Ozuna was on the table for a trade. Both the Indians and the Marlins were smart to hold on to their players, and both notched good – though imperfect – seasons. This offseason, I recommend that the trade be revisited.

For his part, Ozuna accumulated 2.4 WAR and received positive grades both offensively and defensively on Fangraphs. Interestingly, you’ll notice that throughout his career, he has been rated a little below average in range but is credited with a solid arm, which more than makes up the difference. He might not be the ideal player to pair with Brantley in left, but if Brantley were to move to 1B or a DH role, Ozuna may be able to thrive in left with an athletic fielder like Zimmer, Allen or Almonte manning center field. Still, he's far from a sieve defensively, no matter which outfield position he plays.

Sans Brantley, the outfield may be a light-hitting bunch, although a platoon of Guyer and Chisenhall is promising. Ozuna's .773 OPS, .452 SLG and 106 wRC+ this year look very tempting, as only part-timers Brandon Guyer and Tyler Naquin had a higher wRC+.

Naquin, by the way, precipitates a trade for another outfielder. I don’t know about any of you, but I fear I’ll never see Naquin hit a fastball again. For all the great golf swings he puts on breaking pitches – and there’s really no need for statistics on this since it’s burned into our collective memories at this point – he can’t hit a rising fastball to save his life. Also, his porous defense lead to a Game 6 drubbing and I firmly believe his miscues cost us a chance at a competitive game.

Salazar is a great pitcher, with a ridiculous 10.55 K/9 last year. He’s also projected for 3.5 WAR next year, almost a full win above Ozuna (2.8 via Depth Charts). But he’s also had serious arm troubles, including TJ in 2010 and myriad of other assorted injuries and "tenderness due to unrelated issues," fatigue, etc. You have to wonder what his durability is moving forward, especially for as hard as he throws.

Relying on Salazar for an extra win (more or less) is a gamble, and if the Indians feel good about a guy like Kaminsky, for example, I think you move him. With the weapons at Tito’s disposal in the bullpen – and his proven success and ingenuity in regards to managing those weapons – I think you sell from a position of strength to shore up the biggest weakness. Salazar is under team control for 4 years; Marcell Ozuna 3. Both are in their prime. You lose a year of control, but I would feel more comfortable extending Ozuna versus Salazar if need be. To make this trade work, I would also consider sweetening the deal with Naquin, because as the 3rd runner-up to the ROTY award, his value will in all likelihood never be anywhere near as high. Perhaps the Indians could also get a flyer on a player they like as well, possibly a minor leaguer.

Miami, sadly, is now in need of a top flight pitcher. While Ozuna is a very nice piece, they may be more open to gambling on Salazar's upside versus the durability risk. While I’m sure we would all prefer Bauer for Ozuna, that’s not happening. We made it to the Series without Salazar in the postseason once and we can do it again, especially with a (hopefully) healthy Brantley and a new-and-improved centerfielder from the Fish.

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