As someone who watches every Brewers game, I cannot be emphatic enough in my appreciation to Derek Jeter for trading Christian Yelich into my life. He’s delightful.
Yelich, a day after learning he made his first All-Star game, is making his return to Miami this evening as a member of the Brewers. He entered the evening batting .285 with 11 home runs, 36 RBIs, 11 steals, and an .821 OPS. He, along with free agent acquisition Lorenzo Cain and scrap heap salvation Jesus Aguilar, have bolstered the offense on the team that has the best record in the NL.
Stats alone can’t really define Yelich. He is one of those players who just has a knack for timely hits, and he has such a graceful swing that one imagines he was put on the planet expressly for that purpose. He’s also a gold glove-caliber outfielder.
The cornerstone of the deal from the Marlins perspective was Lewis Brinson. He has wound up being so bad, batting .186, so far that the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz sought to subversively get him voted into the All-Star Game. (The initiative was unsuccessful and Le Batard joked that it was an example of the show having more roar than reach.)
Other prospects the Marlins received in the trade were OF Monte Harrison (currently batting .231 in AA this season), INF Isan Diaz (batting .229 in AA) and RHP Jordan Yamamoto (currently in A-ball, though in fairness he does have a 4-1 record and a 1.55 ERA).
It’s one thing to say that the Marlins are rebuilding, but Yelich is the exact type of player who would have been perfect to keep around until the team was good again. He’s 26 years old, making just $7 million this season and a shade under $10 million in 2019. He’s signed through 2022; in the last three years of his deal he is making an average of about $14 million per year, and that’s still very good value for a player of his caliber whose prime projects to extend through then.
If you’re keeping score at home, an executive who’s known for being a shortstop made a trade with one of the best young executives in baseball in Brewers GM David Stearns, 33, and it wound up being a bloodbath. Even if Brinson goes on to have a pretty good career, it’s doubtful he’ll ever be as good as Yelich is now.
Of course, we know that Jeter was slashing payroll to meet profit bonuses under a plan titled “Project Wolverine,” according to the Miami Herald. The Yelich trade is a poster example of how Jeter is being completely disingenuous when he talks about having aspirations of building a winner. This trade was a disaster from a baseball perspective, and it’s almost better for Jeter if you take the cynical angle that he did it to line his own pockets as opposed to believing it was a baseball decision.