LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Rebuffed by Giancarlo Stanton last week, the Cardinals returned to the Marlins' outfield to find another answer in their search for an offensive upgrade.
That pivot brought them to Marcell Ozuna, who the Cardinals believe can fill the middle-of-the-order void that they had initially hoped to plug with Stanton. After gaining momentum in trade talks with Miami on Tuesday, the Cardinals reached an agreement on Wednesday that will bring Ozuna to St. Louis.
A source told that a deal was in place, pending a physical. The club has not confirmed the trade.
According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Cardinals are sending right-hander Sandy Alcantara to the Marlins as part of the deal. Alcantara, ranked by as the organization's No. 9 prospect, debuted in September and made eight relief appearances for the Cardinals.'s Joe Frisaro reported that outfielder Magneuris Sierra, right-hander Zac Gallen and left-hander Daniel Castano are also headed to Miami in the deal. Sierra was the Cardinals' No. 6 prospect and Gallen was their 13th-ranked prospect.
Groomed as a starter during his climb through the Minor League system, Alcantara features a fastball that can reach triple digits in velocity and an advanced breaking ball.
Miami, which had heavily scouted and evaluated St Louis' system during the clubs' discussions about Stanton, was known to be interested in the Cardinals' outfield and pitching talent.
Ozuna, 27, just completed a career year in which he slashed .312/.376/.548 with a .924 OPS while being named to the National League All-Star team for the second time. He hit 37 home runs and collected 124 RBIs -- totals that would have been team highs for the Cardinals in 2017 -- while starting 153 games. All but two of those starts came in left field.
The Cardinals will have two years of control of Ozuna, who is set to become a free agent after the 2019 season.
St. Louis will have some flexibility in how it positions its outfielders, but Ozuna projects to open the season alongside Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. It also increases the chances that the Cardinals trade several outfielders currently on their 40-man roster. Neither Randal Grichuk nor Stephen Piscotty seem to have an obvious fit moving forward. The Cardinals also have to reevaluate how to clear a logjam of young outfielders that includes Harrison BaderTyler O'Neill and Oscar Mercado.
One of those decisions may be reaching a conclusion soon. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the A's are edging closer to completing a trade for Piscotty. Though the Cardinals expected Piscotty to cement himself as part of their core when they signed him to a six-year contract extension in April, his struggles last season forced the organization to re-evaluate those plans.
A trade to Oakland would offer a homecoming for Piscotty, who grew up in nearby Pleasanton, Calif. It would also plant him closer to his mother, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) earlier this year.
Jenifer Langosch

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