Reports that Derek Jeter is trying to get rid of the Miami Marlins’ home run sculpture may have been the last straw for talented outfielder Christian Yelich. Or maybe it was the Giancarlo Stanton trade? Or the Dee Gordon trade? Or the Marcell Ozuna trade? Or one of the many other questionable things the new ownership group has done to the club.
No matter what the real cause, one thing is clear: Christian Yelich wants out of Miami, and he’s serious about it.
That’s not a rumor or report based on anonymous sources, either. That’s coming straight from his agent. In a statement to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, Yelich’s agent, Joe Longo, said his client’s relationship with the club was “irretrievably broken.”
“The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.”
Longo then goes on to explain Yelich loves the city of Miami and its fans before driving the point home:
“I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don’t see how it’s going to work.”
Christian Yelich wants to be traded, and won’t be too happy if he’s still on the team when spring training begins.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that this offseason. Rumors leaked that both Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto wanted to get out of Miami shortly after the team traded away Stanton, Gordon and Ozuna.
In an attempt to get ahead of that, Marlins general manager Michael Hill released a statement saying the team will be the ones to initiate trade conversations, not the players.
Yelich and his agent decided to speak out even after that, giving you a sense of how messed up this situation has become. Yelich and Longo have gone against Hill’s wishes by taking their demands public. Not only that, but there’s a chance Yelich will make things harder on Hill if the team decides to bring him back.
While Yelich took the risk of alienating the fan base with his decision, they probably understand at this point. Yelich is in a similar spot to Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Josh Harrison, who also requested a trade Tuesday for similar reasons. They both play for teams who traded away massive talent and have no desire to contend in the near future.
If the team does entertain his wishes, Yelich should have plenty of value on the market. The 26-year-old hit .282/.369/.439, with 18 home runs, over 695 plate appearances in 2017. He’s considered one of the better young outfielders in baseball.
Yelich doesn’t have as much leverage as Harrison, though. He is under team control through 2022 with a reasonable contract. Yelich won’t make over $10 million until 2020.
If shedding salary is the club’s main goal, then they would have to get rid of Martin Prado, Starlin Castro and Wei-Yin Chen before moving down to Yelich. Castro won’t be too upset about that. He has also asked to be dealt.
Whether the Marlins will be good again by 2022 is anyone’s guess. A lot can change in that period, so perhaps Yelich could still be a part of the next winning team in Miami.
But 2022 is a long way off. If Yelich is already angry now, it’s tough to imagine five more years mired in mediocrity will help that. Given how the Marlins operate, a trade always seemed inevitable here. Yelich is just moving up the timeline by a few years.
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