The idea of Christian Yelich being traded by the Miami Marlins the offseason hasn’t been groundbreaking for quite some time. After the ownership group spearheaded by Derek Jeter took over the Marlins from Jeff Loria earlier this offseason, it was public knowledge that they new brass intended to shed salary in a major, major way - and immediately began doing so. However, as we sit here on January 16th of a still cold Hot Stove season, that Yelich is still a member of the Marlins is a bit of a surprise, one that Yelich personally would like to see solved.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Yelich’s agent Joe Longo called his client’s relationship with the Marlins “irretrievably broken,” which makes it pretty obvious that the talent drain in South Florida has taken enough of a toll on Yelich to make him want out of that sinking ship. Gone are Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon already, with the super awesome amazeballs dinger structure apparently next on the chopping block. For any player, that’s a series of events that would serve to be disconcerting, but for an in-prime player like Yelich that’s an even bigger kick to the shins.
Factor in that Yelich is in the midst of an incredibly team-friendly deal he signed alongside Stanton to form what was supposed to be the foundation of the future of the club, and you can certainly see why things aren’t super rosy in Miami.
Despite being a wonderful fit, the Cincinnati Reds have yet to be connected to Yelich in any rumor whatsoever this offseason. Of course, the Cincinnati Reds have yet to be connected to anything at all this offseason. However, as the free agent market continues to crawl along as slowly as ever before, perhaps there’s an incredible advantage for the Reds to be slow-playing not just the free agent market, but the trade market, as well.
So far this winter, the New York Yankees added to an already incredibly rich outfield mix featuring Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Jacoby Ellsbury when they landed Stanton. The San Francisco Giants were in need of offense in the worst possible way - specifically in the outfield - and have already used what little they possessed on the prospect front to land both Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. Ozuna’s addition to St. Louis further crowded their OF situation, too, with Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler, and Randal Grichuk all still around and in the mix. And the Pittsburgh Pirates, who conceivably could’ve moved into win-now mode in 2018 with McCutchen in his final year under contract, have begun a sell-off with his departure alongside that of starter Gerrit Cole.
The Reds are now the front-runner for landing Yelich is a statement that I’m not at all making here. Heck, if Yelich is looking for a way out from a last-place bound squad with eyes on winning titles immediately, the Reds might be as far removed from his ideal landing spot as possible. However, while the Marlins are underwater thanks to self-inflicted concrete boots, the Reds have been nearing the surface for going on two years now, and (in theory) are on the cusp of coming up for air. Also, that’s a list of at least four teams that might’ve been in the mix for Yelich a few months ago that theoretically have found their answers in the outfield elsewhere.
At 5 years and some $58.25 million, the remaining money on Yelich’s contract is a steal, something that carries more value to a club operating at payroll levels like Cincinnati than for those nearing the $197 million luxury tax. And, at just 26 years old, those years should theoretically represent some of the finest of his career.
A cheap, controllable OBP machine capable of playing all three OF spots who could swap cavernous Marlins Park for GABP for 81 home games? That’s the exact kind of player the Reds should be drooling over under any circumstances, let alone in a scenario where that player is publicly asking for a lifeline.