Worst Trade In Recent Memory: St. Louis Cardinals

In December 2017, the Miami Marlins traded outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals for four minor league players: Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen, Daniel Castano, and Magneuris Sierra.

The trade was initially seen as a win-win for both teams, with the Cardinals getting a much-needed power bat in Ozuna and the Marlins acquiring promising young players.

At the time, Ozuna was coming off a strong season with the Miami Marlins, where he had hit .312 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs.

Initially, the trade looked like a good move for the Cardinals. Ozuna had established himself as one of the best hitters in the league, and the Cardinals were in need of a big bat in the middle of their lineup. However, things quickly went south.

In his first season with the Cardinals, Ozuna hit .280 with 23 home runs and 88 RBIs, which were respectable numbers but a significant drop-off from his previous year. His defense also left much to be desired, as he committed 10 errors and had a below-average defensive rating.

The real issue, however, was the cost of the trade. Alcantara, Gallen, and Sierra all turned out to be promising young players, with Alcantara and Gallen in particular developing into solid major-league pitchers.

Alcantara, in fact, was named an All-Star in 2019 and has continued to pitch well for the Miami Marlins, winning the Cy Young award in 2022 after posting a brilliant 2.28 ERA across 32 starts. Sierra also showed flashes of potential, but has since joined the Los Angeles Angels, while Castano holds a 4.15 ERA over 86.2 innings in the majors.

Gallen has also become a very solid starting pitcher, although he no longer plays for the Marlins, posting a very impressive 2.54 ERA over 31 starts last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, finishing fifth in Cy Young voting.

In hindsight, the trade has been widely criticized as one of the worst in recent memory. The Cardinals gave up too much talent for a player who was not a true difference-maker for them. Ozuna left the team after the 2019 season, and while he had a strong year with the Atlanta Braves in 2020, he's since fallen off hard, recording a paltry .655 OPS with 32 home runs and 84 RBIs over 188 games since 2021.

If the Cardinals had held on to those players, who knows what success they might have gone on to have.

Overall, the Marcell Ozuna trade was a costly mistake for the St. Louis Cardinals, and serves as a cautionary tale for teams looking to make big trades for star players. Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports