Christian Yelich is still on the Miami Marlins, to the surprise of many. Tons of teams would love to acquire him, the Dodgers among them.
Once the Miami Marlins traded Giancarlo Stanton, their firesale commenced. Since then, they have traded away another star player in Marcelo Ozuna and angered two other key pieces in J.T. Realmuto and Christian Yelich in trade requests. It’s gotten to the point where their relationship is toxic, according to ESPN. Should the Dodgers take a swoop at him? Do they need to?
I wrote about the 26-year old about a month ago is a career .290/.369/.432 hitter, and a .290 hitter with a .833 OPS 39 home runs, and 74 doubles in the last two seasons. He is a Silver Slugger and former Gold Glove winner.
He is on the cusp of becoming a truly elite player and is under contract through 2022 for a bargain guarantee of $44.5 million (by MLB standards). By all accounts, he would improve any team he’d join, teams should want him, including the Dodgers, but would cost a ton.
But, like in Econ 101, water is a ‘need,’ and tv is a ‘want’, and Yelich is the latter. But before I continue, I’m not against a trade for the current Marlin, rather, very for it. But he’s isn’t a necessity to the reigning National League Champions. As of now, that is. A right-handed ace for last year was a need. Yelich would just be a luxury.
There is no doubt that left field was the Dodgers’ weakest position on the field and Yelich has played left field for most of his career, just becoming a full-time center fielder in 2017. But he is a Gold Glove winner in left and the Dodgers already center field locked down.
He would serve as a significant upgrade over a Joc Pederson/Curtis Granderson/Enrique Hernandez platoon from last year or a (projected) Joc/Kike platoon. Andrew Toles is the wild card here though. He was refinding his 2016 form before he got hurt, showing he has the bat to hold down a starting spot.
However, he is coming off an ACL injury, which is always tough to gauge because of the severity of it but he is on a good track to make an early return in 2018. With these three names to be the favorites for the job, along with competition from Trayce Thompson, there are more questions than answers. We do not know how the Dodgers will handle Alex Verdugo either. Will they put him in left, or in center, then pushing Chris Taylor into left?
Joc struggled mightily in 2017, to the point of a demotion, but he broke out in the World Series, giving us reason to wonder if he figured something out. The front office will definitely want to give him one last chance to prove himself, and if he can go back to at least his 2016 form, the team would take it.
Kike Hernandez will be a mainstay because of his youth, defensive versatility, team control and ability to hit lefties. And Toles will most definitely be around because he deserves the benefit of the doubt unless he carries great trade value.
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While these guys might not be the “sexy” option, they are just good enough. They won’t make or break a season. They were the weakest players last year for LA but were not the reason they lost Game 7. Thus, the Dodgers should not feel desperate enough to unload the farm for Yelich.
Unless they stink so bad, there is no need to give up on them yet and give up talented prospects in the process. Also, any trade for him would require you to send money back if the Dodgers want to (and should) stay under the $197 million luxury tax line. The player most likely would be a Yasmani Grandal.
Like with running shoes, you don’t need them to go out for a jog, but they make it easier. The Dodgers don’t need Yelich to win, but he would make it easier. Thus, the Dodgers should make a move for him. Even if it takes a package built around Alex Verdugo and Yadier Alvarez, Los Angeles should make a play with their depth.
The Yankees, Cardinals, Astros, Giants, Rockies, and Cubs have made potential impact trades or free agent signings. The Dodgers? Not so much. This isn’t a reason to rush into one, but they have a chance to improve the team and maintain the second-best team in the league while keeping pace with the Astros after their trade for Gerrit Cole. All while dealing from a position of strength in the talent department.