It’s been three years since the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Christian Yelich in a blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins. The years since have made this trade look more and more lopsided.
Since being acquired in 2018, Christian Yelich has put up video game like numbers that even Pablo Sanchez from Backyard Baseball would be envious of. And since going to the Marlins, the return package of Lewis Brinson, Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison, and Jordan Yamamoto have put up numbers even Reese Worthington from Backyard Baseball would be embarrassed by.
Brinson, the headliner of the trade, has also played in three seasons at the big league level since the trade and has put up a -3.0 fWAR in the same amount of time. Brinson has just a .189 batting average and an OPS+ of just 49 with the Marlins. He’s also been striking out nearly 30% of the time.
Diaz, the second-best prospect in the trade at the time, made his debut in 2019 and over the last two seasons has posted a -1.4 fWAR with a .174 batting average and a career 45 OPS+. You know what his OPS+ was in 2020? Zero. He had an OPS+ of zero in 2020. He also strikes out 29.6% of the time.
Harrison just made his debut in 2020 and only hit .170 over 47 ABs with an astounding 26 strikeouts. I know it’s a small sample size, but a 51% strikeout rate? Yikes. He put up high strikeout numbers in the minors too and it looks like that will be a concern going forward.
Of the three hitters the Brewers sent back for Yelich, a two-time batting champion, all three of them have a career batting average below .200 and a strikeout percentage around or above 30%.
The fourth player, Jordan Yamamoto, is the only one to have a positive fWAR in his career so far. He posted a 0.9 fWAR in 2019 through 15 starts with some decent numbers, but absolutely tanked in 2020, giving up 23 earned runs in just four games.
The Brewers acquisition of Christian Yelich is looking less like a trade and more like a heist.
This is the kind of trade that just makes David Stearns look like a genius, and one that will forever be known as one of the most lopsided transactions in baseball history.
Since this deal, the Brewers signed Yelich to a contract extension, keeping him a Brewer throughout much, if not all, of the rest of his career. If he keeps up his pace from 2018-2019, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t get in that form again and dominate for the next several years, then Yelich could find his way into Cooperstown.
This is an all-timer. Regardless of what happens with Brinson, Diaz, Harrison, and Yamamoto, the Brewers will come out ahead on this trade. There’s still time for those four players to turn things around and have pretty nice careers, but so far things are not trending well. If those four players stay on their current track, the Marlins and their fans will never live down this trade.
If those players do start playing better, the Marlins could at least say they made a defensible trade. But three years after this deal, it’s not looking like the Marlins will get the value they thought they were getting back for Yelich. In fact, it’s looking like the Brewers sold them a bag of magic beans in exchange for the superstar Yelich.
From here on out, the acquisition of Christian Yelich should no longer be known as the Christian Yelich trade, but instead be called The Christian Yelich Heist.
2021 will be Yelich’s fourth season with the Brewers and there are many, many more to come.