Christian Yelich, Marlins
Christian Yelich is the most valuable player available on the trade market. At just 26 years old, Yelich has already won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove and still has room to grow. Perhaps the most attractive thing about Yelich is his extremely team-friendly contract. Yelich is not a free agent until after the 2022 season (assuming that whichever team he is on picks up his 15 million dollar option that season), and is owed an average of just 11.65 million dollars per season.
While there have been many teams in on Yelich, the Brewers make the most sense. The Brewers have more young outfielders than they know what to do with, which is why trading one or more of them in a deal for Yelich makes sense as far as consolidating talent is concerned. Coming off a surprising 2017 season that saw the club in first place for the majority of the season, the Brewers have made it known that they are trying to contend in 2018 with their pursuits of top free agents starting pitchers Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish.
The asking price for Yelich is understandably high. Last week, they asked the Braves for Ronald Acuna in return for Yelich, who was just rated as the number one prospect in baseball by both Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law. The Braves were unwilling to include Acuna in a deal for Yelich, but many in the industry believe that this was not necessarily a crazy asking price. After being criticized for not receiving an elite prospect in both the Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna trades, the Marlins are justified in holding out until a club meets their asking price.
Suitors: Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies
Lewis Brinson (OF, #1 Prospect)
Freddy Peralta (RHP, #11 Prospect)
Josh Pennington (RHP, #22 Prospect)
Carlos Herrera (RHP, #30 Prospect)
While the Marlins were unable to pry Ronald Acuna away from the Braves, they may be getting the next best thing in Lewis Brinson. Widely regarded as a top 25 prospect, Brinson has all the tools necessary to be a future All-Star in centerfield. Brinson has received 70 grades for his defense in center field to go along with 70 raw power at the plate, which he showed in his short big league stint when he hit this 461-foot bomb. The only thing hampering Brinson is his health as he has failed to play more than 102 games since 2012.
While Brinson is the clear headliner of this deal, the Brewers will need to add some depth in the way of pitching prospects to complete this deal. Even after acquiring right-handed pitching prospects Nick Neidert, Jorge Guzman, and Sandy Alcantara this offseason, the Marlins system is still shallow on pitching depth.
The best of these prospects is the hard-throwing righty, Freddy Peralta. The 6’2, 175 pounder has an electric arsenal, which he used to strikeout 169 batters in just 120 innings last season. While the Brewers hold Peralta in high regard, he is probably just the fourth-best right-handed pitching prospect in their system right now, as Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Luis Ortiz all rank higher than him.
As I have pointed out in the “Top Trade Targets: Catcher” article I wrote about the possibility of the Marlins dealing catcher J.T. Realmuto, Miami should go all-in on their rebuild. The club has already taken huge strides towards improving its future by dealing Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton, and Marcell Ozuna, but they will need to deal Yelich and Realmuto if they want to have a Top 10 farm system.
Other Trade Candidates: