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Marlins trade Christian Yelich to Brewers for four top prospects

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The disgruntled outfielder gets his wish, and the Fish get Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison (among others). Is Realmuto next to go?

Photo by Rob Foldy/Miami Marlins via Getty Images

The Miami Marlins teardown found another gear Thursday evening with news that outfielder Christian Yelich is headed to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was first to report the trade and Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports quickly confirmed it:

Yelich spent 2017 in center field, batting .282/.369/.439 with 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases. Across five Marlins seasons, he primarily manned left, batting .290/.369/.432 with 59 homers and 72 steals. The former first-round pick received an NL Gold Glove and NL Silver Slugger along the way.

After both teams officially announced the blockbuster, Yelich took to Instagram to address his feelings and express gratitude to fans and former teammates:

What about the Marlins’ perspective?

President of baseball operations Mike Hill found some time in his busy training schedule to hold a teleconference. As transcribed by the Sun Sentinel’s Tim Healey:

“As we talked about our offseason, what was in front of us, we felt like we needed to get better. We felt like we needed to make some changes to build our organization [and] to build that depth to allow us to win on a consistent basis.”

“We felt like we added impactful, championship-caliber players—players that will be a part of future Marlins championships as they reach the big leagues.”

Here’s what the they’ll receive in return:

  • OF Lewis Brinson
  • OF Monte Harrison
  • 2B/SS Isan Diaz
  • RHP Jordan Yamamoto

Brinson, 23, is the headliner. He was recently ranked as baseball’s No. 18 overall prospect by Baseball America and No. 32 by ESPN.com. During an abbreviated MLB stint last summer, he batted .106/.236/.277 in 21 games. Born and raised in Broward county, too!

However, don’t let that concern you. Brinson boasts an impressive .287/.353/.502 batting line across parts of six minor league seasons.

In speculating about a Yelich-to-the-Brewers deal earlier this week, we noted that “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.”

Harrison is also a consensus top 100 prospect (No. 75 by BA, No. 85 by ESPN). Here’s how Keith Law summarizes his skill set and potential (ESPN Insider subscription required):

“He’s a plus runner with below-average instincts on the bases, while his speed and strong arm make him a candidate to play anywhere in the outfield, including center. There’s still risk here with the bat—he still has a tendency to chase off-speed stuff—and 2017 was the first full, healthy season he’d had in pro ball, but Harrison possesses power/speed/defense upside here along the lines of Mike Cameron if it all comes together.”

Further details about all four youngsters can be found in the Marlins’ official statement:

via Marlins Communications

On Tuesday afternoon, Craig Mish of SiriusXM indicated that Milwaukee had a “strong interest” in the 26-year-old and put together a formal trade offer. It’s unclear who was included in that original proposal and whether it was altered before the Fish accepted it.

Moreover, Mish believes it was ultimately a “two team race” between the Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays.

Probably goes without saying, but this trade weakens the 2018 Marlins. Yelich was widely expected to be the most valuable player on the roster (4.2 zWAR, according to Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections). In his place, Brinson will presumably have an opportunity to earn the starting center fielder’s job in spring training.

This leaves catcher J.T. Realmuto as the last desirable veteran in Miami. One of the contenders pining for him? The NL East rival Washington Nationals, according to Mish.

More updates to come...