The Milwaukee Brewers completed a trade with the Miami Marlins on Thursday to obtain Christian Yelich. To acquire him, the Brewers gave up Lewis Brinson, Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison and Jordan Yamamoto.
Rumors of a major trade swirled around the Milwaukee Brewers all offseason. The team had the prospects to pull off a trade (especially in the outfield), and General Manager David Stearns finally pulled the trigger with the Miami Marlins to get outfielder Christian Yelich. Trading for another outfielder seems a bit peculiar, but Yelich fits the bill as a young, controllable player. Sadly, getting him cost the Brewers three top hitting prospects and a young pitcher. With all this said, what is the real impact of this signing?
More About Christian Yelich
Yelich is a 26-year-old outfielder entering his fifth full season in the majors. Last season, he slashed .282/.369/.439 with 18 homers and 16 stolen bases. Despite his age, he already has a long-term contract in place from when he was in Miami. Yelich agreed to a seven-year, $49.5 million deal in March of 2015 that includes a club option for an eighth season. This effectively gives the Brewers up to five years of control over him.
Yelich isn’t the flashiest player out there, but his consistency and potential is tough to match. He tallied at least 30 doubles each of the past four seasons and consistently walks over 10 percent of the time. Most also regard him as a good fielder and has experience in left and center field. At just 26 years old, his doubles power could play up in the hitter-friendly confines of Miller Park as he enters his prime. At this point, he seems like a staple in center field and the middle of the Brewers’ lineup for many years to come.
How the Deal Got Done
Basically every team in the league was interested in acquiring Yelich. That’s not surprising given his established prowess as a hitter and his controllability. This led the Marlins to post steep prices for his services, though. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Marlins demanded that top prospect Ronald Acuna be included in a potential deal with the Atlanta Braves and that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. be the headliner in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Brewers had a deep farm system, but these prices were pretty tough to meet.
Outfielder Lewis Brinson seemed like a natural headliner for a return package. He’s the top prospect in the Brewers system, so it’s unlikely that the Marlins would bite if he weren’t included. Isan Diaz was a relatively easy prospect to include as well given the other options in the Brewers system. Mauricio Dubon is an infield prospect closer to the majors, and Keston Hiura potentially offers more upside given his elite hit tool. With this in mind, Diaz’s presence in the organization was a bit of a redundancy.
The big kicker in the deal is the inclusion of Monte Harrison. He broke out last season with Low-A Wisconsin and seemed ready to vault up Milwaukee’s prospect lists. It certainly hurts giving up another prized outfield prospect, but given how many years a Santana-Yelich-Phillips outfield can be in Milwaukee, it’s not the worst price to pay.
Adam McCalvy of MLB.com makes it seem like there was a piece added to the trade at the last second to make the transaction take place immediately. Speculation would suggest Harrison was the tipping point, but no confirmation on that front has come forth. Regardless, the Marlins got quite a haul for their young outfielder.
How the Brewers’ Organization is Altered
First off, the Brewers rebuild seems to officially be over. Raiding the farm system for a player of Yelich’s caliber signals that the Brewers are all in to compete now. There’s still a glaring need for a stud starting pitcher, but that likely will happen soon now that Stearns made the commitment to go all out in 2018.
Next up, the lineup will get a nice shakeup. Adding onto the breakout seasons of Domingo Santana and Travis Shaw, Yelich will likely also be an integral part of the heart of the order. As things stand now, here’s my projection of the Brewers’ regular starting lineup:
- Jonathan Villar
- Christian Yelich
- Ryan Braun
- Travis Shaw
- Domingo Santana
- Eric Thames
- Orlando Arcia
- Manny Pina
This banks on Villar returning to his 2016 form, but this lineup can be very potent. Yelich hitting in the two-hole could help him maintain decent RBI production while getting back to the 100-run plateau. Adam McCalvy projects a version of the lineup in which Yelich bats leadoff, which is certainly reasonable as well given his solid speed. Either way, the Brewers have a lot of options with Yelich in the fold.
Although things in the majors are looking great, the farm system is…doing much worse. According to MLB.com, Brinson, Diaz and Harrison were all top-15 prospects for Milwaukee. With their removal from the list, here’s my prospect ranking for the Brewers:
- Corbin Burnes
- Luis Ortiz
- Corey Ray
- Keston Hiura
- Lucas Erceg
- Freddy Peralta
- Mauricio Dubon
- Tristen Lutz
- Marcos Diplan
- Trey Supak
There’s still plenty of talent, but it’s certainly not the same without the newest Marlins prospects.
All in all, there’s a lot to be excited about with this trade. Yelich is a young player with the potential to flourish now that he’s away from the hitter’s graveyard in Miami. Things should change now that Lorenzo Cain is also a Brewer, but it’s a great time to be a Brewers fan regardless.