There has been a lot of questioning regarding Marcell Ozuna’s future with the Marlins of late. There have been the usual speculators about his being trade fodder; but then there is something else – why hasn’t he been recalled?
Ozuna initally was sent down in order to “find his swing”. The idea that a change of scenery would get him back on track.
To be eligible for arbitration after this season, Ozuna likely would need to be back with the Marlins by Aug. 8, WINZ’s Andy Slater noted in a piece over the weekend.
Andy Slater, you say?
There could be two reasons the Marlins haven’t called upon Ozuna again. The team may want him to continue to work out any kinks they feel are necessary before he rejoins the big-league club. The other reason may be the arbitration clock.
Players need to be on a major-league roster just under three years (2 seasons plus 130 days) to begin the arbitration process, as explained by the website Fangraphs. Entering this season, Ozuna had one year and 153 days of service time. To reach arbitration status in 2016, Ozuna would need to be on the Marlins 25-man roster for about 149 days this baseball season, which began April 5 and ends October 4.
Ozuna currently sits at two years plus 73 days of service time, according to my calculations. That number puts Ozuna about 57 days shy of qualifying for arbitration. Going into tonight’s contest at San Diego, the Marlins have 72 days remaining in their season (65 games, 7 days off). For Ozuna to qualify for the automatic, bigger paycheck next year, he’d have to be back with the team by August 8. It should also be noted, according to rules, if Ozuna was recalled within 20 days of being sent to Triple-A, he would have received credit for major-league service time even while in New Orleans.
Where there is smoke. Yes, Ozuna needed to get his swing right. He was being less aggressive with his approach to try and get on base more. These are the kinds of things you want to see young players work on (see Bryce Harper) but usually during the offseason, not at the expense of your team’s performance.
With the Marlins dumping Mat Latos and Michael Morse to free up salary, it would not be surprising that the Marlins brass have finances as a motivating factor over winning games. Then again, turning back to Barry Jackson, another important point is raised:
Agent Scott Boras declined to give an opinion on that arbitration issue but told me that when the Marlins demoted Ozuna on July 5 (with his average at .249), Ozuna “was told by [president/baseball operations] Michael Hill that as soon as he gets his rhythm back, he will be right back. And the manager [Dan Jennings] reported to me he was hitting the ball well at Triple A.”
Note again who is Ozuna’s agent. Boras always encourages his clients to seek free agency. Pudge Rodriguez was one of note years ago, back in the offseason of 2003 at the start of the current regime’s run. Boras is also the agent to Jose Fernandez – expecting multi-year deals before they hit free agency is a very long shot for the Fish. And now they have two players, they have identified as their core, as clients of his. Maybe this is a way to keep Ozuna around just a bit longer.