LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. • That progress the Cardinals felt they had toward a deal with the Marlins has accelerated to finalizing a deal for outfielder Marcell Ozuna, and the two teams are working through the details.
An agreement has been struck and the deal is being finalized, two sources described to the Post-Dispatch.
The deal is pending a physical, and the teams intend to announce the deal Thursday. The Cardinals are known to have offered a pitching prospect, Sandy Alcantara, as the centerpiece of a deal with the Marlins, which was reported as progressing Tuesday night by the Post-Dispatch. The Marlins have coveted Alcantara, and he was a part of the trade the Cardinals and Marlins had agreed upon for Giancarlo Stanton.
Outfielder Magneuris Sierra is also involved in the deal and two minor-league pitchers, a source confirmed. The Miami Herald reported those two minor-league pitchers are Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano.
John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' president of baseball operations, declined to comment on any pending deals.
"It's a lot going on," Mozeliak said.
At this time, that includes ongoing talks with Tampa Bay, and the Cardinals' consistent interest there is Alex Colome, the closer.
Sources said Tuesday night that the Marlins were encouraged by the starting pitching they were going to get in the Ozuna trade. In the discussions the Cardinals had with the Marlins about Stanton, Jose Martinez was also of interest to Miami.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny referred in general terms to the addition of a new hitter to the lineup, and when asked if he could see another addition that reshapes the order, he nodded.
"That's on the table," he said.
The Cardinals finalized their deal with reliever Luke Gregerson on Wednesday evening. The righthander passed his physical and the fine print on his deal dried.
Ozuna, 27, is a two-time All-Star who hit 37 home runs and slugged .548 for the Marlins this past season. He won the Gold Glove Award in left field and claimed the Silver Slugger Award at the same position. The Cardinals view him as a likely cleanup hitter and an intimidation factor in the middle of the order.
He is eligible to become a free agent after the 2019 season.
• Q and A with Mike Matheny: Stanton snub, Ozuna trade and 2018 lineup
• STATS: Marcell Ozuna year-by-year
• CARDS TALK: Fans sound off about Ozuna coming to STL
The conversations with the Marlins about Ozuna spill out of the Cardinals' long talks with Miami about acquiring Stanton. This is not the only trade the Cardinals are pursuing at the winter meetings, and they have indicated that there were a series of moves they intended to make, if possible.
With Ozuna at one of the corner outfield positions, the Cardinals are in position to shift and consider trading Stephen Piscotty to Oakland. The Cardinals would be able to move their right fielder closer to his home — a move inspired, in part, by the chance to get him close to his mother, who was diagnosed with ALS this year.
The San Francisco Chronicle added to the possibility that infielder Yairo Munoz has been discussed. The Cardinals have previously talked about reliever Liam Hendriks with the A's, the paper also said, and the Cardinals remain on the hunt for relief additions.
"I don’t know if I can empathize with Piscotty," Matheny said. "You just hurt for him. You can’t even really go there to understand him and at his age and what it is that he had to endure or what that is like for a family. I think it’s really just understanding that it is very, very difficult. You let him know that you care. You acknowledge. You have compassion. We’re trying to be support for him, and we have to look to do anything we can."
The Cardinals also have explored trading an outfielder to Tampa Bay as part of a deal that would include Colome. Outfielder Randal Grichuk would fit one of the wants the Rays have, as would one of the younger players with six more years of control. Evan Longoria has been discussed as a part of that trade, and the Cardinals have met with Baltimore to determine if they could meet the asking price for Manny Machado.
Ozuna and Carlos Martinez talked about their friendship during the All-Star Game, where they had lockers beside each other in the Marlins' home clubhouse. Ozuna was also a friend of the late Oscar Taveras.
This past October, Mozeliak flew to Las Vegas to meet with Dexter Fowler in person to talk about moving from center field to a corner outfield spot. Fowler expressed a preference to play right field. Tommy Pham will be the Cardinals starter in center. That leaves Ozuna, the Gold Glove winner in left.
This is a developing story and will be updated.