Can Rays Trade for Yelich? | The Process Report

Can Rays Trade for Yelich?

Throughout this offseason there will surely be a lot of turnover with the Rays roster once again. The team appears to be leaning towards cutting payroll but will also try to put themselves in a better position to compete in 2018 and beyond. So if it was possible to add a player to the roster that could improve the team for next season and beyond while on a team friendly deal, wouldn’t it at least be worth a look? Christian Yelich is a dynamic young player that would be a perfect fit on the Rays’ roster for the next five years at a reasonable price. But the first question is will he even be available?

The new Marlins brass has stated that they would like to reduce payroll to about $90 million. A recent article in the Miami Herald has stated the team ideally would prefer not to trade Yelich because of his team friendly deal. Well no kidding! They would ideally like to trade other players making more money, who aren’t as good. Martin Prado and Dee Gordon were mentioned as more likely trade candidates because both are due a significant amount of money in the next couple seasons. But that doesn’t mean they will be able to deal them. If the Marlins were presented an offer on Yelich that would bring back several useful pieces (presumably both major league and minor league talent) they would probably have to consider it if they plan to cut payroll. Nobody knows for certain what this new management will do but you would have to imagine them weighing all options regarding the roster they’ve inherited. They will likely get a bunch of calls on teams regarding Yelich’s availability and it will no doubt take an incredible package to pry him as it should. He’s one heck of a talent.

Yelich is quite simply one of the best young hitters in the game. He’s only been a regular in the majors since 2013 and his numbers are phenomenal.





273 4 11.4% 24.2% 0.108 0.380 0.288 0.370 0.396 0.341 118



660 9 10.6% 20.8% 0.119 0.356 0.284 0.362 0.402 0.341 118



525 7 9.0% 19.2% 0.116 0.370 0.300 0.366 0.416 0.343 120



659 21 10.9% 20.9% 0.185 0.356 0.298 0.376 0.483 0.367 132



630 18 11.5% 19.7% 0.156 0.336 0.282 0.369 0.439 0.348 115


As if his impressive offensive numbers weren’t enough, he’s also graded out as an above average defender in LF and about an average defender in CF.


Career Innings DRS UZR

UZR / 150


1061.0 32 12.3 4.4
CF 2025.0 -12 -8.6



While its pretty clear he’s a better defender in LF than in CF, just the fact that he’s able to play CF in case of an emergency is a plus. It could also allow the Rays to give KK an extra day off or two during the season.

For a 25 year old, Yelich has quite the resume for a star player already. And his contract only adds to how valuable he is. Here’s a breakdown of what he is owed for the remainder of his current deal:

2018 (Age 26 season)- $7 million

2019 (Age 27 season)- $9.75 million

2020 (Age 28 season)- $12.5 million

2021 (Age 29 season)- $14 million

2022 (Age 30 season)- Team Option $15 million ($1.25 million buyout)

That’s excellent value for a player of Yelich’s caliber and it’s definitely a contract the Rays can handle having on the books. It’s very team friendly. If Yelich puts up another 4.5 WAR season in 2018, that would be worth almost the remainder of the deal alone. Yelich is also going to be in his prime throughout the entire remainder of this deal which is an additional plus.

Now comes the most unappealing part about potentially trading for Yelich, the cost. It’s gonna take a pretty significant package to pry a player of this caliber but the Rays definitely have the pieces to get a deal done. The big question is how much of the farm and/or their current roster would they have to give up to get Yelich? Well for starters you can bet the Marlins will want at least one of the Rays’ top 3 prospects if not two.

I would absolutely not give up Willy Adames or Brent Honeywell in pretty much any deal the Rays would make. The Marlins would surely ask for one but it would almost assuredly be a no. However, the Rays number three prospect should be on the table for this deal. Jake Bauers had a solid 2017 season at Triple-A despite being one of the youngest players in the International League. He’s a consensus top 100 prospect in baseball and is probably ready for the big leagues right now. Personally I think Jake Bauers is going to be a very good major league hitter and I wouldn’t think of trading a prospect like him if it weren’t in a deal for a player like Yelich. Bauers will likely play 1B or LF at the big league level and will be dependent on his bat. Also keep in mind, Joe McCarthy had a solid 2017 season at Double-A Montgomery and has a similar skill set as Bauers.

It’s no secret the Marlins’ rotation is a mess so they will likely have to get back a pitcher (or two) that could slot into their rotation. While the Marlins would surely want Brent Honeywell or Blake Snell, let’s say they’re off the table. Matt Andriese has had mixed results in the big leagues since his debut but its partly because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. When healthy he’s been fairly good but struggled turning over a lineup more than twice. That’s pretty common for a young pitcher though. He could slot right into the Marlins’ rotation and they would have control of him for the next four seasons. For a rotation lacking depth, he’d be a good addition for them. Jake Odorizzi could also be appealing to them to add to their rotation. Although he’s coming off of a down year where his velocity had a noticeable drop and he’s only under control for the next two seasons. He’s due to make $6.5 million in arbitration this go around so if Miami took him back it would essentially negate any of their cost savings they’d be getting from dealing Yelich for 2018 and 2019. But if Odorizzi’s velocity returns he could turn in a solid season. Pitching in the especially pitcher friendly Marlins Park would also play to Odorizzi’s skill set. Or perhaps they’d prefer another player from the Rays’ prospect ranks. Jose De Leon is probably another piece they’d like and it’d be very difficult to part with him but he’s possibly an option as well.

Another player that should interest the Marlins is Daniel Robertson. As mentioned above, two players named in the Miami Herald article that the team would like to move are Dee Gordon and Martin Prado. If they moved at least one of those players they would likely be interested in an young infielder. But even if they didn’t they still should be. JT Riddle was their shortstop after they dealt Hechavaria to the Rays but his season ended early after a shoulder injury. He showed off a decent glove but not much offense. Robertson could play second, shortstop or third base for them if needed but I’d give him a long look at shortstop if I were them. The Rays are fortunate to have a lot of depth currently up the middle and could withstand losing Robertson. His infield versatility, upside with the bat and team control all make him a valuable trade chip though.

So here’s what a couple potential Yelich trades might look like. I’m not entirely sure these offers would get it done but it would at least open up a discussion and be a good starting point for a deal.

Marlins trade Christian Yelich to Rays for Jake Bauers, Matt Andriese, Daniel Robertson and Ryan Yarbrough

In this deal, the Marlins pick up a top-100 hitting prospect, a starting pitcher they can immediately plug in their rotation, a young shortstop and another potential starter. Plus the Marlins get out of having to pay the rest of Yelich’s contract. It’s a steep cost for the Rays but  their prospect depth can withstand moving a few pieces. Jake Bauers is a tough loss but adding Yelich will more than offset his bat in the lineup for the future. Removing Andriese and Yarbrough from the Rays pitching depth definitely isn’t ideal but the team has built up an incredible amount of big league ready pitching depth. Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Jake Faria, Austin Pruitt, Chi-Wei Hu, Brent Honeywell, Jose De Leon and even Yonny Chrinos form a great young core of starting pitching options. Chase Whitley and Nate Eovaldi also figure to factor in as well. Robertson showed some nice promise in his first season in the big leagues but with Matt Duffy, Adeiny Hechavaria, Brad Miller, Willy Adames and Kean Wong among others, there’s plenty of depth at middle infield. Plus I could see the Rays to add another middle infield piece in a deal this off-season as well.

Marlins trade Christian Yelich and Junichi Tazawa to Rays for Jake Bauers, Jake Odorizzi, Daniel Robertson and Hunter Wood

Adding Tazawa in the deal will offset the salary the Marlins would take on by adding Odorizzi for 2018. They obviously would be betting on a bounce back from Odorizzi. Tazawa is coming off of a rough 2017 where he saw his strikeout rate dip and his walk rate rise. But like Odorizzi, if he returns to form he could be a valuable reliever for the Rays in 2018. Of course, the Marlins still get Bauers and Robertson. Hunter Wood could be valuable starting pitching depth or a potential reliever.

Marlins trade Christian Yelich to Rays for Jake Bauers, Jose De Leon, Ryan Yarbrough and Justin Williams

I’d say a deal similar to this is highly unlikely. I doubt the Marlins would take just prospects for Yelich to begin with and the Rays hardly ever deal only quality prospects for a major league player. But it’s at least a possibility. Aside from Bauers and Yarbrough, De Leon would be a big get for them. He has a very high ceiling as a front of the rotation starter if he can ever stay healthy while Williams has shown the ability to be a potent bat at Double-A this season.

No matter what the actual cost would end up being for the Rays to pry Yelich from the Marlins, we know it would be very steep. The payoff could be enormous though. You’d get a young offensive star for the the foreseeable future on a team friendly contract. Even if you see the Rays’ best window for being a contender again in 2-3 years, Yelich will fit perfectly in the picture. An additional bonus to making a deal like these shown above for Yelich would be that it clears valuable space on the Rays’ 40-man roster to add other players to protect for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. A player like Taylor Guerrieri or Yonny Chirinos whom the Rays currently may have to expose can now be protected.

Yelich could probably lead the Rays in OBP for the next five seasons and could potentially add more power to his game as well. He’s a solid defender in left field and his base-running has graded out positively according to BsR every season as well. Yelich is the type of the player that the Rays quite frankly haven’t had in the past and could put them over the top in a playoff race whenever that may be.

One Comment

  1. Steve wrote:

    The Marlins need pitching. Badly. So, the Rays can give it to them, and conceivably not need to give up one of the top 3 prospects. How about Odorizzi, Andriese, JDL, and Wood? If that’s not enough, add in Boxberger, or, if necessary to get it done, Colome. If any team can deal with such a hit to pitching depth, it’s the Rays. That would leave Archer, Snell, Faria, Eovaldi, Honeywell, Pruitt, Hu, Chirinos, Yarbrough, Whitley, and possibly Burch Smith or another aging vet signed to a non-roster deal.

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