The Cardinals have a new outfielder and middle-of-the-order hitter, Marcell Ozuna.

He’s the kind of player fans have been hoping the Cardinals would add for the past few years.

Ozuna, 27, is a power-hitting left fielder, and he immediately makes the Cardinals lineup more fearsome than it’s been since Albert Pujols wore the birds on the bat. Last year, he was a more than respectable defensive player, finishing third in the Fielding Bible voting for left fielders.

Acquiring Ozuna cost the Cardinals four prospects – pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano and outfielder Magneuris Sierra.

The flame-throwing Alcantara and speedster Sierra were the big prizes for the Marlins. Gallen is a decent prospect, and Castano is most likely minor league roster fodder.

Long story short, the Cardinals were able to deal from the glut of pitching prospects and outfielders to add the type of player they needed the most. Plus, Ozuna has two full seasons until he becomes a free agent.

This was a good deal. The Cardinals improved their major league team without greatly damaging their farm system.

The Marlins received four useful players. How useful each will be is yet to be seen.

Most consider Alcantara to be, at the very least, a useful bullpen arm. It’s safe to say the Marlins think he could become a good starter or dominant closer.

Sierra was the toast of the town this summer when he was promoted to the big club and injected much-needed energy into the lineup.

Still, it has to be noted that all 19 of Sierra’s big league hits were singles, many of them not leaving the infield. It wasn’t sustainable.

Gallen and Castano are low-ceiling pitchers. If they contribute at the back end of the major league rotation someday, the Marlins will have to consider that a success.

Meanwhile, Ozuna is a proven commodity. He’s coming off a breakout season where he hit .312 with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS. Those are the kind of numbers that receive MVP votes.

As with any player, there are caveats.

Before 2017, Ozuna was wildly inconsistent. He was known mostly for power surges and extreme ups and downs.

It’s likely that last season was Ozuna’s statistical best, and it’s unreasonable to expect him to replicate it.

If Ozuna can produce 30 home runs, keep his batting average in shouting distance of .300 and his OPS in the mid-.800s, the Cardinals should be satisfied.

Adding Ozuna doesn’t make the Cards a World Series favorite, and it doesn’t mean they’re as good as the Cubs, but it’s a monumental step in that direction.

With a couple other additions – another hitter, a closer and/or a starting pitcher – that conversation could change.

Note: The Cards traded Stephen Piscotty to Oakland for two mid-range prospects. The move puts Piscotty close to his hometown and his mother, who is battling ALS.

I think it’s safe to say that I, along with every other Cardinals fan, is wishing Piscotty all the best, both on and off the field.

JEFF WILSON can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jeffwilson83.


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