Momentum has been building toward these trade negotiations all offseason. We’ve learned—via agent Joe Longo—that Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich doesn’t want to stay here. Scroll down within the same article and there’s a poll where nearly 68 percent of Fish Stripes readers voted to accommodate Yelich’s wishes before Opening Day 2018.
The only missing ingredient? Firm proposals from interested teams.
The Milwaukee Brewers have finally broken the dam, according to Sirius XM’s Craig Mish:
Source : Brewers have put together a trade offer & have shown strong interest Marlins OF Christian Yelich. Other teams remain in the mix.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) January 23, 2018
It’s an ideal fit. Yelich’s track record as an above-average major leaguer, potential to get even better and long-term/below-market contract all appeal to the Brewers. Conveniently, they head into the new season with one of MLB’s lowest projected payrolls, per Spotrac, minimal future obligations and quality trade chips.
From the Marlins’ perspective, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com hears that outfield prospect Lewis Brinson is a target.
The South Florida native—who also happens to play baseball at a high level—ranked No. 18 in Baseball America’s new top prospects list and No. 32 on ESPN.com’s list. Brinson has the skill set to stick in center field and intriguing upside in the power department. With some standard service time manipulation, the Marlins would have him under club control for the next seven seasons. As a rebuilding organization, that’s preferable to the five years remaining on Yelich’s deal.
But show me the rule that says Miami needs to flip their best asset for a package of prospects...
[pauses article for five seconds so reader digests that idea]
There is no such rule!
Rest assured, the Marlins will continue to strengthen their farm system. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so through trades of other MLB contributors (J.T. Realmuto, Justin Bour, Dan Straily, etc.) and signing young talent in the amateur draft and international free agency. To be clear, if/when Yelich goes, they must receive some prospects in return.
However, the Marlins cannot afford to whiff on this transaction, or it may set back the entire franchise. Prospects will fulfill your dreams or break your heart, and it’d be irresponsible to lose Yelich for a bunch of volatile assets and nothing else.
In their talks with Milwaukee, they should push for a centerpiece who has more major league production on his resume: shortstop Orlando Arcia.
First off, let’s note that Arcia is actually younger than Brinson by about three months while having nearly 10 times as much experience at the highest level (208 games compared to 21). He will play most of the upcoming season at age 23.
As is the case with many other starting-caliber MLB players, Arcia was a top prospect. Heading into 2016 (the last time he was eligible to be included in those aforementioned scouting lists), he earned consensus top-10 rankings.
The upshot on Arcia from ESPN’s Keith Law at the time:
“If everything breaks right, Arcia could be like Omar Vizquel with a little more pop, and the same kind of reputation for making the fielders around him better too.”
He already outdid his Venezuelan countryman in 2017, batting .277/.324/.407 (85 wRC+) with 15 home runs. That’s a higher total than Vizquel achieved in any of his 24 major league campaigns.
Metrics that attempt to approximate overall value couldn’t agree about how effective Arcia was last season. Baseball Prospectus had him at 3.4 WARP, Baseball-Reference at 2.6 bWAR and FanGraphs at 1.2 fWAR. All of them express their findings with a similar scale, so yes: BP thought he was nearly three times as valuable to the Brewers as FanGraphs did.
In other words, the jury’s still out. For the time being, it’s best to default to the scout’s perspective on his skills, rather than pick whichever of those numbers fits your own narrative.
The Marlins’ future is unsettled at pretty much every position, but particularly shortstop. Neither JT Riddle or Miguel Rojas—leading candidates for the 2018 gig—have an All-Star ceiling. Maybe former second-round draft pick Joe Dunand does? We won’t find out for several years—he only has 34 professional plate appearances thus far.
Arcia and Yelich are both under club control through the 2022 season. Keep in mind, though, that the Marlins are in this favorable position because they previously extended Yelich. There should be opportunities to do the same with Arcia in the coming years.
In addition to this toolsy centerpiece, the Marlins could find an intriguing outfielder deeper in Milwaukee’s farm system. Alternatives to Brinson include Monte Harrison (No. 75 overall in BA, No. 85 in ESPN) or Brett Phillips (No. 80 in BA, unranked in ESPN, pictured with Arcia below).
The third piece in this hypothetical package would have to be a developing pitcher. They could push for right-handers Brandon Woodruff or Corbin Burnes.
To recap, this is a plea to the Fish front office to ensure that Yelich’s immense value on the current market doesn’t go to waste. Arcia is a clever compromise: a bonafide major leaguer who’s still plenty young enough to dream on.