The San Diego Padres are reportedly one of the many teams that have inquired about Miami Marlins outfielder, Christian Yelich.
Yelich has made it known that he is unhappy about the recent trades of Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna as the Marlins have been in full sell mode. They might be willing to trade their last star outfielder, as well as his contract.
While San Diego is willing to play ball with the organization, it would take a lot to get the outfielder. But with the Padres trading for shortstop Freddy Galvis and having conversations with Scott Boras’ client Eric Hosmer, it is not much of a stretch to see A.J. Preller and the rest of the Padres front office willing to dip into their vast prospect pool to acquire the talented outfielder.
The 6′ 3″ Yelich is a left-handed bat and has been one of the most consistent hitters in MLB. He has hit over .280 in each season he has played, while also having an OBP of at least .360 in each of those seasons as well. The outfielder has also ran into some power as he has aged, hitting 21 and 18 home runs in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Last season, Yelich had a batting line of .282/.369/.439 while sporting a healthy BABIP of .336. His 19.7 K% is also balanced out by a BB% of 11.5, which means Yelich is willing to take a walk. He is also a threat on the base paths as he pilfered 16 bases in 18 attempts.
Yelich was placed in center field as an experiment during the 2017 season, but he is a much better left fielder. Yelich had -6 defensive runs saved and posted a UZR of 0.1, yet still ranked 11th of all MLB center fielders in DRS. To compare, Manuel Margot had eight DRS and a 5.2 UZR as a center fielder and Jose Pirela had four DRS and a 4.1 UZR as a left fielder. In 2016, however, Yelich played both left and center field and had 6 DRS and a -0.1 UZR collectively. Yelich picked up a Gold Glove award in 2014 thanks to collecting 11 DRS and a 9.9 UZR, both of which were career highs. He has great ability with the glove and would help solidify the outfield no matter where he plays.
If Yelich were to be traded to San Diego, he would most likely slot in left or right field in place of Pirela or Hunter Renfroe, respectively. Yelich can still offer some solid glove work and sneaky base running, but it will be his bat that would earn him a daily spot in the lineup and offer protection for hitters like Austin Hedges and Wil Myers.
It would take quite a lot to actually acquire him. Miami is asking for deals that eclipse both the Ozuna and Stanton deals and would most likely be interested in one or two of the Padres’ top five prospects. The Marlins would most likely want one or two of Mackenzie Gore, Fernando Tatis Jr, Cal Quantrill, or Luis Urias. The Marlins picked up three pitching prospects from the Cardinals for Ozuna as well as a left-handed outfielder. Miami would be interested in the talents of Quantril (No. 3 prospect according to MLB.com), Anderson Espinoza (N0. 6 prospect), or Joey Lucchesi ( No. 9 prospect) to match the pitching talent they’ve previously acquired (please note that I’m not saying the Padres should trade all three of these players, just that the Marlins would be interested in acquiring at least one of them).
The Fish are also looking for outfield help thanks to their gutting of the outfield. So they may be interested in players like Franchy Cordero (No.12 prospect) and/or Jorge Ona (No. 11 Prospect), as Cordero’s speed and power as well as Ona’s power ceiling may intrigue the Marlins enough to pull the trigger on a deal. Of course, the Padres could also include players like Pirela or Travis Jankowski if Miami wants major league talent.
Any way you slice it, the Padres would have to probably eat some (bad) salary on a deal. Wei-Yin Chen or Martin Prado make sense as the Marlins wish to cut as much salary as they can. The Padres have payroll flexibility at the moment and the amount of bad money the Padres take in a proposed deal might dictate what prospects the Marlins get back in return. Chen is owed $52 million while Prado is owed $28.5. Either player could help offset the fact that Yelich is signed at a bargain price.
It will be interesting to see how a new ownership would deal with Preller after the last trade involving Colin Rea. In 2016, the Padres sent Andrew Cashner, Tayron Guerrero, and Rea to the Marlins for Carter Capps, Jarred Cosart, Josh Naylor, and Luis Castillo. However, Rea was injured in his first start with the Marlins and the Padres reworked the trade, sending Castillo back to the Marlins for Rea. Miami cried foul however and insisted that the medical records were not completely accurate. The Marlins felt cheated and felt that the Padres had sent them an injured player, and joined the Boston Red Sox in filing a grievance against the Padres. After an investigation by the MLB, Preller was given a thirty-day suspension and the Padres made swift efforts to reinforce their medical staff.
This is a new Marlins team, however, that would be willing to make trades with Preller if it meant acquiring talent. Preller seems to be interested in Yelich and, if this is the year the Padres push for .500, a player of his caliber would be worth acquiring even if it meant sacrificing top talent. The future is looking bright for this Padres squad, and Christian Yelich would make it even brighter.