After spending most of the past few weeks waiting and wondering about the decision of a single slugger, the Cardinals made enough “forward progress” toward a trade Tuesday that members of the front office publicly shared a word they reserve for only rare occasions.

General manager Michael Girsch and John Mozeliak, the president of baseball operations, expressed “optimism” for the addition of their desired hitter.

They offered no further details.

Just as important, they attached no qualifiers.

“We’re not at the goal line, but we’ve made progress,” Girsch said Tuesday evening as the second day of the winter meetings neared dinner time. “We have some sense of optimism, and I think that’s right. These days are ebb and flow. Conversations come, and they die quickly. Then new ones come. We do feel like we are optimistic that we are moving in the right direction on a couple of things.”

One of those appears to involve Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna. At the same time the Cardinals acknowledged their “optimism,” sources indicated Miami felt it had momentum to move Ozuna, this past year’s Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner in left field. The match is obvious. The Cardinals always felt that conversations with Miami about reigning MVP Giancarlo Stanton would — if unsuccessful — offer a head start on talks about Ozuna or Christian Yelich, two outfielders who also appeal to them. Two sources said the Marlins are more eager to move Ozuna at this time and hold Yelich even as they shred the roster elsewhere.