St. Louis swings deal for Miami’s Ozuna

Published 12:09 am Thursday, December 14, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — J.D. Martinez has a chance to see in person what his monster year is worth.
The free-agent star who hit .303 with 45 home runs was ready for a meet-and-greet session with teams at the winter meetings. The Boston Red Sox wanted to see him, having hit the fewest homers in the majors last season.
“The only reason I think you have players talk to owners, presidents and general managers is there’s a request to really get to know the player,” agent Scott Boras said Wednesday. “They get to ask questions that they can never ask because they’re never in front of the player.”
St. Louis added a power bat, swinging a deal for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The move came just a few days after Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton turned down a trade to the Cardinals.
The bullpen carousel continued to turn, too.
Side-arming Joe Smith moved to the World Series champion Houston Astros, who wanted a right-hander tough on righty hitters after Luke Gregerson went to St. Louis.
Seattle appeared to close in on Juan Nicasio, who led the National League with 76 appearances. The New York Mets reached a deal with righty Anthony Swarzak, a person familiar with the talks told the AP.
Minnesota boosted its rotation — for late 2018, at the earliest. The Twins agreed to a $10 million, two-year contract with former Yankees righty Michael Pineda, who had Tommy John surgery last July.
Martinez totaled 104 RBIs and a 1.066 OPS with Detroit and Arizona, and his season included a four-homer game for the Diamondbacks. The 30-year-old lives in Florida and was going to hit the meetings before they end Thursday.
The Red Sox need power, a feeling heightened by the Yankees completing a trade for Stanton this week, less than a month after he won the NL MVP by leading with majors with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs.
Ozuna joined Stanton and second baseman Dee Gordon as All-Stars traded by Miami as new CEO Derek Jeter and the Marlins cut payroll.
“Ozuna is one of those names that you have to have great respect, especially as much we see him,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
An All-Star the last two seasons, the 27-year-old Ozuna set career bests this season with a .312 average, 37 homers and 124 RBIs. He is eligible for salary arbitration and likely will earn more than $10 million.
The Cardinals quickly found a bopper after Stanton invoked his no-trade clause and blocked a deal.
“I was just very impressed the fact that we were involved in those conversations,” Matheny said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t work, but I think that just kind of parlayed into, OK, now what are we going to do?”
Ozuna’s acquisition could prompt the Cardinals to make another trade, with outfielder Stephen Piscotty perhaps heading to Oakland.
While Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta remain the top free-agent starters on the market, CC Sabathia also is available.
The 37-year-old lefty, who went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA last season for the Yankees, met this week with Toronto.
“He’s a workhorse, man,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s always pitched well against us. One of the great competitors in the game for a number of years. I thought he looked strong last year.”
Sabathia has played since 2009 for the New York Yankees, who would like him to remain.
“He’s been a great performer for us, and there may very well be a chance for us to continue working together. May not. It’s a business on both ends,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “He’s certainly of interest, but because of who he is and what he continues to do, he’s of interest elsewhere, too.”

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