JUPITER -- After his first visit to then-Pro Player Stadium, Christian Yelich was introduced as the Marlins' first round pick in the 2010 draft. Following his first full season as a Marlin, Miami signed Yelich to a 7-year, $49 million extension with an option for an eighth year.
"It's pretty exciting," Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill said. "The last time we were at a press conference with Christian, we were welcoming him as our first round pick. This one is a special one for us. He has a tremendous future ahead. This is something we share as an organization."
Yelich, 23, won the Gold Glove in left field last season and posted a .284/.362/.402 batting line to complement nine home runs and 54 RBIs. He played in 144 games in his first full major league season after appearing in 62 contests for the Marlins in 2013.
"I'm excited to be in Miami for the foreseeable future," Yelich said. "We have exciting times ahead of us. I love the guys on our team, and I think we're gonna be really good this year and in the future."
After signing Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year extension in November, the Marlins were interested in locking up other members of a young core, and Yelich was among them.
"We want to build that core," Hill said. "Our goal is to win not just this year but in the years to come. It's definitely exciting and we're ready to get things going."
Heading into 2015, Yelich could see time batting second in the lineup. He saw time in the leadoff spot last season while Rafael Furcal was sidelined.
"He had great awareness," Jennings said of what made Yelich attractive as a first round pick. "We always talk about the rhythm. He's always possessed that since the first time we put our eyes on him. He is a tremendous hitter who is only going to get better as he learns the league. The maturity part of who he is and who he was when he first got here allowed us to make a decision that was really easy because of the character that he brings."
Miami was notably active this offseason, adding Michael Morse, Ichiro Suzuki, Dee Gordon, Mat Latos, Martin Prado, and Dan Haren. Team President David Samson is excited about the Yelich signing, and believes the approach taken this offseason is notably different than that taken before the start of the 2012 season.
"Christian is going to be with us for years to come, and he is the perfect player to build around," Samson said. "As I look back [on 2012], I thought we were doing it right and we weren't. I think we're doing it right again, but I think this makes more sense."
Yelich wanted to get the deal done to ensure it was not a distraction during the season. With Opening Day two weeks away, the Marlins have 2/3 of their outfield locked up. Miami has shown interest in extending Marcell Ozuna, however he recently said he is not in a hurry to receive a long-term deal.
"I wanted to get it done so I could just focus on having a good year," Yelich said. "It's awesome [to play next to Stanton]. He's a great player, one of the best players in the game."
Miami is confident it can make the playoffs in 2015, and Hill feels extending Yelich should put the club one step closer to winning a championship.
"Our goal has always been to win a championship," Hill said. "That's never not been our focus. Now we're in a better situation."