Christian Yelich has been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, as the Miami Marlins continue their massive offseason fire sale. The Brewers got a young, talented outfielder who is under team control for five years, but gave up far too much in return.
In exchange for the 26-year-old, the Marlins will receive outfielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison, second baseman/shortstop Isan Diaz and right hander Jordan Yamamoto. Brinson was recently ranked 18th on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list, while Harrison ranked 75th. Meanwhile, Diaz was the prized piece the Brewers received when they traded Jean Segura to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Given that the Marlins were in fire sale mode, I’m shocked the Brewers were willing to give up two top 100 prospects and a well-regarded middle infielder for Yelich.
Yes, Yelich is a great talent, but he regressed in 2017, hitting .282 with 18 home runs, 81 RBI and posting an OPS of .808. Given what we’ve seen so far, that may very well be the kind of player he is. In 2016 he hit .298 with 21 home runs, 98 RBI and an OPS of .859, with an fWar of 4.0. That could very well have been his ceiling.
Yelich will make $46.75 million over the next five years, which is a bargain. Still, Brinson already made his Major League debut in 2017 after hitting .331 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI, with an OPS of .962 in 76 games at Triple-A. He has All-Star upside and is just 23 years old. It’s a risky move to give him up now, especially with the other pieces thrown into the deal
Meanwhile, Harrison hit 21 home runs and drove in 67 runs while hitting .272 and posting an OPS of .832 across two levels of A-ball in 2017. He’s an oustanding fielder with excellent speed and a cannon for an arm. He looks like a 20/20 guy who will be an elite defender.
Diaz had a down year in 2017, hitting just .222 at High-A ball, but he’s still only 21. He’s got tons of raw power for a middle infielder, though he’s likely ticketed for second base long-term. There is a lot of clay to mold with there, as he’s solid across the board with plus-power.
Maybe I’m wrong in the long run, but it seems like the Brewers gave up too much for Yelich, especially given the depth at outfield they already have within the organization and their pursuit of free agent Lorenzo Cain. It seems like developing from within and signing Cain as a stopgap would have been the better strategy.
UPDATE: The Brewers have also signed Cain to a five-year, $80 million deal.