In the latest dose of Marlins-related drama, agent Joe Longo of Paragon Sports International, who represents Christian Yelich, tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that a trade of his client in the next month would be in the best interest of both team and player.
Longo states that he respects the Marlins’ long-term plan for a return to contention, but states that the “…plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career.” Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins has been “irretrievably broken” and has “soured,” according to Longo, who goes on to speak about the disappointment that Yelich has felt in watching the Marlins’ new ownership group gut the roster in trades that have sent Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna elsewhere.
“The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and [Yelich] needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win,” Longo tells Crasnick. The agent goes on to explain that Yelich signed his seven-year, $49.57MM contract extension with the Marlins in a “completely different climate” — that is, one where the organization looked to be making a clear push to win in the short term. Yelich’s deal (which Longo and Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed at length with MLBTR’s Zach Links back in 2015) was agreed upon in the same offseason that saw the Fish sign Stanton to a record-setting $325MM contract. New ownership, however, clearly has no intent of pushing for a division title in 2017 as payroll has been slashed by roughly $50MM.
Longo’s comments, of course, don’t ensure that a trade of Yelich will transpire before or during Spring Training. Such decisions are up to president of baseball operations Michael Hill and his staff, who needn’t feel pressure to move Yelich in the same manner as they did with regard to Stanton, Gordon and Ozuna. The Marlins’ payroll projection is inching closer to its reported target of roughly $90MM, and Yelich’s $7MM salary for the coming season isn’t especially burdensome. Moreover, the fact that Yelich can be controlled for another five years at a total of $58.25MM is a clear indicator that he’ll be an asset with considerable surplus value at virtually any point the Marlins decide to make him available.
Yelich is hardly the only player that is less than enthused about the notion of suiting up for a Miami club that looks destined for the NL East cellar. Catcher J.T. Realmuto’s agents have reportedly informed the Marlins that their client would prefer to be traded, and infielder Starlin Castro (acquired as a financial component in the trade that sent Stanton to the Yankees) is reportedly hoping to be dealt elsewhere before so much as playing a single game for the Marlins.
Per Crasnick, the Blue Jays, Braves, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, D-backs and Phillies are “among” the teams that have reached out to the Marlins to gauge the asking price for Yelich in a trade, though there are assuredly more team that have expressed interest. Toronto GM Ross Atkins recently suggested that virtually every team in the league would have interest in a Yelich trade, and reports have suggested that more than 15 teams have at least kicked the tires on the former Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner.
Yelich, just 26 years of age, is a career .290/.369/.432 hitter. He’s averaged 20 homers and a dozen steals over the past two seasons and has proven to be a capable center fielder or an elite defender in left field. Crasnick notes that Yelich himself may speak publicly in the coming days, and the column is stuffed with additional quotes from Longo. It’s well worth a full read-through, both for those that have been diligently tracking the Marlins’ offseason roller coaster and those who haven’t been monitoring the situation as closely.