Mets aim for Johan Santana to make Grapefruit League debut next week

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Johan Santana’s availability for the start of the season is in doubt, but he’s getting closer to making his spring debut.

ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports that the Mets are aiming for Santana to make his first start in a week, likely next Thursday against the Tigers. This means he would only get three starts to prepare himself for the start of the regular season, but Mets manager Terry Collins is more focused on the long-term than having him ready for Opening Day against the Padres.

“We’re not worried about April 1,” Collins said. “We’re worried about 30 starts.”

Santana has been trying to build arm strength over the past few weeks after taking it easy during the offseason. The veteran left-hander has thrown two light bullpens in recent days and will need to throw another before progressing to live batting practice. Assuming all goes well, he’ll then test himself in game action.

Rubin speculates that Santana may make his final two starts of the spring in minor league games so that the Mets could backdate him if he needs to begin the season on the disabled list. Jeremy Hefner would likely serve as a placeholder in the rotation in that case.

Cardinals acquire Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins

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The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins. Craig Mish of Sirius XM was the first to report that the deal was done. Ozuna still has to take a physical.

There is no report yet about what the Cards had to give up to get Ozuna, but given that the Cards and Marlins put a deal together for Giancarlo Stanton, the sides certainly have discussed various Cards prospects recently.

Ozuna fills a major need for the Cardinals, who had serious weaknesses in the middle of the order in 2017. Last year their number three hitters hit a combined .246/.338/.425 and their cleanup hitters hit 270/.350/.444. Ozuna, 27, had a fantastic offensive year in 2017, hitting .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI in 159 games.

Ozuna made $3.5 million this past season and is due for arbitration this offseason. He is under contractual control through 2019.