Does Ozuna hold key to controllable starter?

Dealing outfielder could bring Marlins the pitcher they're looking for

Does Ozuna hold key to controllable starter?

MIAMI -- A number of options are on the table for the Marlins in their pursuit of pitching. The club is exploring lower-priced free agents, like Ian Kennedy, and is open to taking a chance on comeback candidate Cliff Lee.

But to acquire a young starter with controllable years before becoming a free agent, the price will be higher. And the best way for Miami to land such a pitcher may be to part with outfielder Marcell Ozuna.

Source: Marlins listening to offers for Ozuna

Ozuna again emerged as a trade possibility on Wednesday, shortly after Alex Gordon decided to return to the Royals. With Gordon off the market, teams in the hunt for outfield help began calling the Marlins.

Texas could be a fit, as the Miami Herald reports, with the Marlins having discussed Ozuna in a deal for right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez and a prospect.

Pleskoff on Gonzalez's potential

It's been no secret Ozuna is available for the right price. Last July, before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Miami had discussions with several teams, including the Indians, about Ozuna.

At the Winter Meetings, at least 10 teams spoke with the Marlins about Ozuna.

The potential match with the Rangers would provide the type of return that could get a deal done. Gonzalez, 23, went 4-6 with a 3.90 ERA in 14 games (10 starts) in 2015.

Gonzalez is a promising talent just starting his big league career. Ozuna, 25, is eligible for arbitration in 2017, and he won't be a free agent until 2020.

Hot Stove Tracker

Texas, though, doesn't appear eager to deal Gonzalez in a package for Ozuna. The Rangers are also looking to add pitching, not subtract from their rotation. Ozuna is estimated to be worth a No. 3-caliber starter in return.

The Marlins continue to listen on Ozuna, and they are fielding calls from more than just the Rangers. Chances are about even that he could stay or go.

Ideally, Miami would like to add to its roster and not subtract a core player like Ozuna.

But if Ozuna is dealt, the Marlins would have to fill a vacancy in center field. Most likely, the club would look at internal options. Derek Dietrich would be a front-runner to be a platoon option in left field. Under that scenario, Christian Yelich would shift from left to center.

Miami also has Ichiro Suzuki, 65 hits shy of 3,000, who can play all three outfield spots.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.