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Marcell Ozuna was the gem of the Cardinals offseason.

They traded four minor leaguers, Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra, Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano, to Miami for the 27-year-old left fielder.

How has that trade worked out?

Well, there seems to be a fairly consistent perception that the trade has been a bust, or at least something close to a bust. To figure out if that’s correct, there needs to be some context.

First, if the only standard to check is how Ozuna’s 2018 season stacks up against his 2017 season, then, yes, this season has been a major letdown.

Ozuna hit .312 with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS in his final season with the Marlins. He won’t be approaching any of those numbers in the final days of his Cardinals debut. A best-case scenario would have Ozuna pushing his average up around .290, getting close to 25 homers, driving in just shy of 100 runs and pushing his OPS to about .775.

Of course, 2017 was, by far, the best season of Ozuna’s career, and it’s not entirely fair to judge a player based on how they performed at their very best.

Here are Ozuna’s 162-game averages for his career: .277 batting average, 24 home runs, 91 RBIs and a .781 OPS. When compared to those numbers, his 2018 is almost spot on.

Based on his career averages and his 2017 breakout, it’s reasonable to say his stats are slightly disappointing but not surprising. While he hasn’t been the power bat most fans wanted, he’s been a useful offensive player.

He’s also been pretty good on defense. Ozuna won a Gold Glove in 2017, and almost every defensive statistic – from fielding percentage to UZR – points to him being better in 2018.

Still, there are other ways to determine the success of the Ozuna trade. One way is to check on the players St. Louis sent to Miami.

The centerpiece of the deal was Alcantara, a 22-year-old pitching prospect. He spent most of 2018 in Triple-A, where he earned a 3.89 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and struck out 88 batters in 115 innings. In two major-league starts, he’s given up only one earned run and struck out eight in 12 innings.

Sierra, a speedy outfielder who made quite a buzz during his short stint in St. Louis last season, has struggled at Triple-A and looked overmatched in the majors this year. Gallen and Castano, both starting pitchers, have had good, not great seasons, at Triple-A and Single-A, respectively.

It’s safe to say the Marlins are pleased with the overall return. While none of those prospects projects as a superstar, they may very well have three decent pitchers in the group.

As for the Cardinals, all of those players would be buried on the depth chart. It’s unlikely any of them would have made an immediate impact on the big-league club, and it’s debatable as to whether any of them would’ve found a spot down the road.

Ozuna didn’t give the Cardinals the monstrous season that had fans salivating in the offseason, but he’s been a very good player. Whether that’s good enough or not is up to each individual to decide.

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JEFF WILSON can be reached at jeffreyewilson5@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwilson83.

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