Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
We knew it was inevitable, and it finally happened today. The Miami Marlins have sent down top prospect Christian Yelich to minor league camp.
The Miami Marlins have long spoken about it (as have we), and today it finally happened. The Marlins reassigned top prospect Christian Yelich to minor league camp, fulfilling the prophecy of the team letting one of their two star youngsters down in the minors for at least one year.
Fans have mixed opinions on this topic, as expected. There is a part of the fan base that is concerned that the Marlins are making a financial decision when there is a good chance the on-field quality decision would be to play Yelich. There are others who believe that the on-field question is not so clear since Yelich has yet to play one inning past High-A. Still others believe that the right course for the Marlins is the so-called "financial" decision to retain Yelich at least through midseason and save a year of service time.
The Fish Stripes official stance is that the Marlins are making the correct decision, and most fan bases that have not been tortured over a difficult offseason would probably agree. The Marlins are not remotely close to loaded with talent in the majors, and the team could possibly improve with Yelich in the bigs. But as we pointed out recently, the improvement is so minimal that the Fish would see almost no tangible difference in performance. There is a very good chance the Marlins will lose 90 games this season, and there is a very good chance that the Marlins would do that with Juan Pierre or Christian Yelich out playing defense.
The Marlins obviously were aware of this exact problem, which is why they decided to sign Pierre in the first place. Knowing Yelich was not certain to be ready, the team could have a fill-in for one year and allow Yelich to prove himself for a final season in the minors. This is important for a developmental reason as well; as Sam Evans pointed out, Yelcih has yet to make the biggest jump in a prospect's career, which is the jump to Double-A. Succeeding in the Double-A jump would prove to the Marlins that Yelich has little left to prove, and it would also give him plenty of time to work on developing his hitting and center field play in a stress-free environment.
Finally, the Marlins' additional benefit is to preserve Yelich's team control status. While it may arguable that there is no reason for Yelich to contribute to a bad Marlins team this season, that goes double for having him contribute at the start of the season. If Yelich goes off in Double-A, he can be brought up in June and the Marlins would likely lose nothing in the exchange, especially given the lack of talent on the club. Why throw away a future year of team control for two and a half meaningless months of play?
So the Marlins made the obvious correct move today. While it may seem unfair for Yelich and fans may not be happy, both parties can rejoice in the decision being correct and beneficial for the team's future.