The Miami Marlins continued their large-scale rebuilding plan on Thursday by trading star outfielder Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers in-exchange for 4 minor league prospects.
Headed to Miami in the trade are outfield prospects Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, infielder Isan Diaz, and pitcher Jordan Yamamoto. All 4 prospects were ranked inside the Brewers’ top 30 prospects, per MLB Pipleine, with Brinson being the organization’s top overall prospect. Outfielder Corey Ray currently ranks number one now, with an updated list to come in the next few weeks.
The trading of Yelich is the fourth major trade made by the Marlins this off-season, joining the trades that sent Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals, and Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners. Just 3 players from Miami’s 2017 Opening Day Roster still remain with the team, and many speculate that number could dwindle down even further before the off-season concludes.
Yelich joins a Brewers team that is rich with outfield depth, as Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana, and Brett Phillips are all starting-caliber players. Milwaukee has not said which outfield spot Yelich will play yet, but Brewers general manager David Stearns noted that Yelich’s versatility that allows him to play any outfield spot made him an even more attractive trade target.
The 26-year-old Yelich slashed .282/.369/.439 with 18 homers, 81 runs batted in, and 16 stolen bases in 156 games for the Marlins last year, and was a Silver Slugger award recipient in 2016, as well as a Gold Glove Award winner in 2014. Milwaukee have Yelich on a team-friendly contract for the next five years, as part of a seven-year, $49.5M contract extension that Yelich agreed to with the Marlins in March 2015.
Yelich will earn $7M in 2018, $9.7M in 2019, $12.5M in 2020, $14M in 2021, and then the Brewers hold a club option worth $15M in 2022 that includes a $1.25M buyout. Assuming Yelich performs at an elite level before 2022, that option will likely have no problem being exercised by Milwaukee.
It was reported by Craig Mish on Tuesday that the Brewers submitted and offer to the Marlins for Yelich, and that there was significant interest from the Brewers side of things. In the end, the Marlins deemed the Brewers offer was the most serious, even with 20-25 teams interested in Yelich. Mish says that the Brewers and the Toronto Blue Jays were the only teams that even made a dent towards getting Yelich, and it’s clear the Brewers dent was a greater dent.
Here’s the full press release from the Brewers regarding the trade:
MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired outfielder Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins in exchange for outfielder Lewis Brinson, outfielder Monte Harrison, infielder Isan Diaz and right-handed pitcher Jordan Yamamoto. The announcement was made today by General Manager David Stearns.
“We are pleased to be able to add a young, talented player like Christian to our organization,” said Stearns. “In a relatively brief time, Christian has emerged as one of the most skilled players in the league on both sides of the ball. It is rare when an organization gets a chance to acquire a player with Christian’s talents at this stage in his career, and we are excited to add him to our team. Parting with the type of talent we traded is never an easy decision, and we wish Lewis, Monte, Isan and Jordan nothing but the best with the Marlins.”
Yelich, 26, signed a seven-year contract with Miami on March 22, 2015, which runs through the 2021 season and includes a club option for 2022. He is a career .290 hitter with 59 HR, 293 RBI and 72 stolen bases in 643 games with the Marlins (2013-17). Yelich batted .282 with 18 HR, 81 RBI and 16 stolen bases in a career-high 156 games last season. He ranked among the National League leaders in runs (T7th, 100), at-bats (8th, 602), hits (9th, 170), doubles (9th, 36) and walks (10th, 80).
Yelich led Major League center fielders last season in fielding percentage (.997) and ranked second in starts (155) and fourth in total chances (372) as he committed just a single error all year. It marked his first full season as a center fielder after winning a Gold Glove Award in left field in 2014 and being named a Gold Glove finalist in both 2015 and 2016.
The 2016 Silver Slugger Award winner was selected by Miami in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Westlake (CA) High School.
Milwaukee will certainly make more moves before pitchers and catchers report Maryvale, Arizona for spring training in less than 3 weeks, but this Yelich team does make one thing clear: the Brewers are going for it, and will battle the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals for the National League Central in 2018, and for years to come.
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