The Miami Marlins may be looking to avoid an ugly stand-off with Christian Yelich by trading him before the end of the offseason.
For reasons that should seem fairly obvious, Miami Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich is not super interested in hanging around any longer than he has to while waiting out the team’s latest attempt at rebuilding. It didn’t take long for Yelich to express his desire to be traded after his Miami outfield mates and fellow All-Stars Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton were shipped out of town in December.
It’s hard to blame Yelich for not wanting to stick around in Miami while Derek Jeter attempts to make the team profitable by improving attendance and losing 100-plus games a year for the next five years. Yelich, however, is in a bit of a pickle. He is signed up through 2022 at a very cheap rate. The Marlins do not have to be in a hurry to trade him, but it might make sense to get it done this winter and bring in an entire core of prospects at the same time.
In five years in the big leagues, Yelich has established himself as one of the more underrated players in MLB. Despite winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger, he has never made the All-Star Game. He is a lifetime .290/.369/.432 hitter with 20-20 potential. Yelich may never hit 30 home runs in a season, but he does everything on the diamond well — think Jason Heyward but with more consistency at the plate.
When the Marlins do kick their Yelich trade talks into overdrive, there will be a feeding frenzy as teams line up to acquire a potential All-Star at a premium position who is owed only $58 million over the next five years. In the here and now, these are the five teams who should most aggressively engage with the Marlins on a potential Yelich deal.
5. Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs definitely have bigger fish to fry than trading for Christian Yelich. They need a number-five starter and a closer to replace Wade Davis. There are plenty of options to replace Jake Arrieta (including the man himself). Finding a new closer will prove more difficult unless Theo Epstein breaks from his typical line of thinking and gives a big-money deal to Greg Holland.
Earlier this winter, the Cubs were rumored to be aggressively pursuing trades for Baltimore Orioles All-Stars Manny Machado and Zach Britton. Hypothetically, any of the young players already offered for Machado or Britton could help to headline a deal for Yelich if Epstein wants to make a run at him.
It’s a gift and a curse that the Cubs have been so good at drafting and developing under Epstein’s front office. They have more controllable, young talent at key positions than anyone else in the league. There is also a great deal of redundancy on the current roster because of it. Both Addison Russell and Javier Baez are capable of starting at shortstop. Kris Bryant, Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber can all play left field. Super-utility guy Ben Zobrist hasn’t even been mentioned yet.
Given that the Cubs have zero willingness to deal Schwarber, his place in left field seems rock solid. That could put Happ, who hit 24 home runs in only 115 games as a rookie, on the trading block along with Albert Almora, a Miami native. Throw in a raw minor-league pitcher and hitter with upside, and the Cubs definitely have the makings of a solid trade offer to the Marlins. It’s just a matter of figuring out how he plans to deal with the glut of young talent on his roster for Epstein.