Marlins Net Four Prospects in Christian Yelich Trade
The Miami Marlins, under new ownership, have been selling off the previous regime's furniture at low-low bargain basement prices, but in shipping out Christian Yelich they got themselves some pretty good 'stuff' in return. In the Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton trades they got financial relief and essentially nothing else. In the Marcell Ozuna deal they received a lot that will likely do very little for Fantasy owners, but they did acquire a talented right-handed pitcher in Sandy Alcantara. And if you are being extremely kind, Magneuris Sierra might be viable in deeper leagues eventually. It wasn’t a killing, but it was a sign that the new show runners in Miami were getting better at making the Marlins better. Well, they made a quantum leap forward in the Christian Yelich trade and Lewis Brinson and company transform their minor league system from a barren wasteland to one that still lacks depth, but got 'toolsy' very quickly.
Christian Yelich is talented, young, controllable and financially affordable for every team in baseball, which is what made him a chip the Marlins were able to trade in for significant talent, something they weren’t really capable of doing in their previous dealings. Lewis Brinson, Isan Diaz and Monte Harrison provide the Marlins three high ceiling prospects that could all be better Fantasy players than Christian Yelich and they aren’t far from contributing at the major league level. Yelich is a true five-tool talent. He can defend well in the field, steal bases on the path, and hit for both power and batting average in the box. The problem with Yelich, from a Fantasy perspective, is that he has never hit more than 21 home runs or stolen more than 21 bases in a season. All three of the Marlins new acquisitions have a higher power ceiling than what we have seen from Yelich so far and both Brinson and Harrison have the speed to steal more bases. The Brewers are in win now mode after this trade and the Lorenzo Cain signing, but they gave up a huge amount of ceiling at controllable, affordable dollars for the safety of a quality all-around talent with a high floor and a relatively limited ceiling.
Marlins Load Up On Prospects in Yelich Deal
#Marlins welcome four new players from Milwaukee, including two of their top six prospects, OF Lewis Brinson, INF Isan Díaz, OF Monte Harrison and RHP Jordan Yamamoto in exchange for Christian Yelich. pic.twitter.com/4yb8yXpsxO
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) January 25, 2018
Lewis Brinson, OF
Ceiling: 25-30 Home Runs - 25-30 Stolen Bases - .280-.290 Batting Average
Floor: 12-15 Home Runs - 12-15 Stolen Bases - .240-.250 Batting Average
Comps: Andrew McCutchen/Brett Gardner/Carlos Gomez
Brinson is a plus athlete, with the power and speed tools to be an impact Fantasy contributor if he can reach his ceiling as a potential All-Star. He has never stolen 25 bases or hit 25 home runs in a season, but he has the raw tools to do both, and in 122 games at A-ball he came close when he hit 21 home runs and stole 24 bases. Scouts differ on whether Brinson can maintain his plate discipline, but in 23 and 76 games at Triple-A in 2016 and 2017 he had an OBP of .387 and .400, suggesting he has improved his approach.
Brinson’s athleticism should allow him to remain a center fielder, while his offensive tools should be enough to be an above average full-time player if he moves to a corner. It’s unlikely that Brinson develops into an MVP candidate like Andrew McCutchen, but it is reasonable to expect a 15-20 home run, 15 stolen base, .270 batting Fantasy contributor in 2018, and he could easily be better in his prime years.
He struggled in limited opportunities with the Brewers in 2017, but it's difficult to discount a guy’s potential after 47 at-bats in his first taste at the major league level. Brinson should contribute for Fantasy owners in Miami on opening day if the Marlins allow it, but at the very least he should receive at least 400 at-bats and be a Rookie of the Year candidate this season.
Monte Harrison, OF
Ceiling: 25-30 Home Runs - 25-30 Stolen Bases - .270 Batting Average
Floor: 12-16 Home RUns - 15-20 Stolen Bases - .230-.240 Batting Average
Comps: Justin Upton/Michael Taylor/Hernan Perez
Harrison profiles a lot like fellow trade partner, Lewis Brinson. The athleticism and physical tools are immense, but there is some question about whether he has the plate discipline to maximize his tools. 2017 was a breakout season, with career highs in games played (122), home runs (21), stolen bases (27) and batting average (.272). Harrison’s issue, like Brinson, is plate discipline and the amount of swing and miss in his game. He has struck out more than once per game every season and 388 times in 326 minor league games. In 2017, he did walk a career-high 43 times, up from 24 and 28 his two previous seasons.
Harrison has the athleticism to remain a center fielder where he could be an above average offensive contributor at the position, while his raw offensive tools profile more than adequately in a corner as well. The question of whether he reaches his ceiling as an impact Fantasy outfielder or settles in as an average all-around contributor will be answered by whether he can maintain a disciplined approach at the plate and limit his strikeouts. He needs to take more walks and swing at better pitches to improve his contact rate and batting average. Harrison is already 22 and hasn’t played a game in Double-A yet, but after a breakout 2017 he could move quickly. The tools could force his way to Miami in 2018, but the Marlins desire to limit his service time and reduce their financial obligations makes June or July of 2019 much more likely. 2017’s breakout campaign makes Harrison an extremely intriguing trade target, especially with the toolshed of potential this kid has.
Isan Diaz, 2B
Ceiling: 25-30 Home Runs - 10-15 Stolen Bases - .265-.275 Batting Average
Floor: 15-20 Home Runs - 5-10 Stolen Bases - .225-.235 Batting Average
Comps: Rougned Odor/Jonathan Schoop/Brad Miller
I hyped Diaz in my 2017 projections and I see him as a buy-low Fantasy player now. He has 25-to-30 home run power with enough speed and baserunning ability to steal double-digit bases at his peak. Like Brinson and Harrison, Diaz has plenty of swing and miss in his game, but unlike Brinson and Harrison, he has plus plate discipline to go with his plus power. His solid approach at the plate should make it easier for him to maximize his power tool and allow him to maintain high on-base percentages.
The concern with Diaz and why he was likely available in this trade, is that he has declined three straight seasons in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging (OPS). The Brewers kept promoting him and he kept getting worse in all four categories at each new level. That’s not the kind of developmental trajectory prospectors like to see, but his approach and power tool profile Diaz as a major league second baseman regardless. The question is whether Diaz reaches his ceiling as a power hitting 30-plus home run middle infielder, who could sprinkle enough games played at shortstop if things fall the right way, or does his high strikeout rate limit him to 18-to-20 home runs and his mediocre defense eventually results in some games at first base or as a utility player? I expect a low batting average, high home run, full time second baseman and that’s why I see him as a buy low opportunity.
The Brewers kept promoting Diaz in spite of his consistent declines, so it will be up to the Marlins developmental staff to determine how they want to handle him. There isn’t a need to rush him. A full season at Double-A with a possible promotion at the end of the season to Triple-A if he develops to their satisfaction, makes sense; followed by at least half of a season at Triple-A in 2019 with a June/July promotion to the big leagues.
Jordan Yamamoto, SP/RP
Ceiling: #3 Starter, 160 strikeouts - 4.00 ERA
Floor: Seventh inning reliever
Comp: Pedestrian Starter, Slightly above average reliever
Yamamoto has an average fastball to go with an out-pitch curveball. He profiles as a middle reliever that could make a Fantasy impact in leagues with holds, but he lacks upside as a starter and doesn’t have the power arsenal to profile as a closer. If he somehow manages to reach the major leagues as a starter he would be a pedestrian streamer or two-start guy who would be pitching in a friendly environment, but that’s the optimal outcome for what amounts to a non-prospect at this stage. If he does transition to the bullpen, a 2019 major league debut would make sense. If they continue to develop him as a starter then a mid-2020 major league promotion would seem reasonable.
For a look at how this trade affects Fantasy owners in 2018, check out Doug Anderson's Fantasy take as the MLB hot stove finally kicked into gear.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Morry Gash
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