Three years ago, the Marlins made a painful transaction with the Brewers. They sent outfielder Christian Yelich to Milwaukee and received a package full of prospects, formed by OFs Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison, 2B Isan Díaz and RHP Jordan Yamamoto. How have things panned out for both teams?
Yelich went on to become a star. From age 21 to 25, he proved to be a good hitter with the Marlins, but he reached another level after joining Milwaukee.
In his first year in his then-new team, 2018, Yelich won the National League MVP award, the batting title, a Silver Slugger, and was selected to his first All-Star Game ever. That year he recorded more hits (187), home runs (36), runs batted in (110), runs scored (118), and stolen bases (22) than ever before, also reaching the .500-SLG and 1.000-OPS plateaus for the first time in his career. Thanks to his continued success during the postseason, the Brewers came up only one win shy of the NL pennant.
Even though he fell off the Earth in 2020—it was a weird, uncommon season with lousy conditions for MLB players—Yelich was great again in 2019, being the runner-up for the MVP award. He’s still so young to think he’s past his prime. Extending Yelich’s contract all the way through 2028 (with a 2029 mutual option) as the Brewers did last winter ensures that baseball history will best remember him as a member of the Crew.
On the other side...
Let’s be clear: the Marlins welcomed these four new prospects with arms wide open. The disgruntled Yelich brought back a better talent haul than any of the other stars that the team traded away during the 2017-18 offseason.
Brinson and Harrison became their first- and second-ranked prospects, respectively and immediately. Díaz entered the farm system as their ninth-best. Initially, Yamamoto was not regarded among Miami’s top 30, but he quickly put himself on the map.
Brinson made his Marlins debut that same year and has received playing time in every season since then. But things have never panned out, as he’s hit for a .195/.242/.305 slash line across 231 games and 766 plate appearances. Those numbers have been enough for a -2.8 bWAR. It’s true he was better in 2020 (.226/.268/.368 in 112 PA). However, he needs to keep improving if he wants to stick around with the team.
Yamamoto got his first taste of the Majors in 2019, at the age of 23, and he wasn’t bad. In fact, in 15 starts his bWAR was at 0.9. The young righty recorded a 4.46 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 78 2⁄3 innings. Home runs and control were his biggest enemies (1.3 HR/9, 4.1 BB/9).
In 2020, he took a step back in his development. He only appeared in four games (three starts) and gave up 27 hits and 23 earned runs (eight homers) across 11 1⁄3 frames. He appears to be on the outside looking in at the 2021 Marlins pitching staff.
In regards to Díaz, he hasn’t been great, either. The Puerto Rican second baseman hasn’t been able to translate his power to the big-league team. Even though Díaz has shown some flashes of it, he owns a .174/.251/.294 slash line in 56 career games for the Fish, along with 66 strikeouts.
He was supposed to be the starting second baseman for the Marlins in ‘20, but Díaz sat out for a portion of the campaign due to COVID-19 and when he came back, he got injured after only seven games (.182/.182/.182).
And last but not least, there’s Harrison, who made his debut with the Marlins last year. He struck out 26 times in 51 plate appearances (32 games) and hit for a .170 batting average. A good thing about his performance is he stole six bases in six attempts and covered a lot of ground defensively.
Harrison should see opportunities during the upcoming season to try to make his way into the lineup despite the Marlins having a crowded outfield.
As you see, the Marlins have received less production from these men than they envisioned at the time of the trade. Each one is still relatively young, but there’s plenty of pressure on them in 2021 to prove they can hold significant roles with the team. Let’s see how they respond to it.
Which of the players received in the Yelich trade will have the best 2021 season?
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