Not going to lie: I thought Christian Yelich would have looked great here. Moot point, though. The forever-selling Miami Marlins shipped Yelich to Milwaukee. We can assume that Yelich is a Brewer and not an Atlanta Brave as the result of the former making a better offer. Here’s what that offer entailed:
Four prospects, two of whom rank among the sport’s top 100, this according to Baseball America and ESPN Insider’s Keith Law. Lewis Brinson was Milwaukee’s No. 1 prospect, Monte Harrison its No. 4. Brinson is ranked 18th overall by BA, 32nd by Law. Harrison is 75th per BA, 85th per Law.
If, as has been reported, the Marlins’ pitch to the Braves started and ended with Ronald Acuna, newly anointed baseball’s top prospect, that was a deal destined never to be made. You might trade the No. 1 prospect for Mike Trout; you wouldn’t for anything less.
With Acuna off the figurative table, the rough equivalents of a top 20-30 propsect and a top 70-80 one would be, depending on your listing of choice, be either Mike Soroka (No. 27 BA) or Kyle Wright (No. 26 Law) and Max Fried (No. 72 BA, No. 77 Law). All are pitchers.
Brinson and Harrison are outfielders. That seems a rather salient point, seeing as how the Marlins have dumped their outfield – first Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, then Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, now Yelich. The Braves count one outfielder among BA’s top 100, and he’s at No. 1. Cristian Pache is No. 57 in Law’s rankings, but he’s 19 and he hasn’t, as Law notes, hit a professional home run.
Some organizations love young pitching. (Exhibit A: the local club.) Others prefer bats. (The Cubs took that approach.) If the Marlins were determined to parlay Yelich – who with a team-friendly contract was a massive asset – into outfielders to replace those just jettisoned, there mightn’t have been a match with the Braves.
That said, I did have visions of an Acuna/Ender Inciarte/Yelich outfield. But tomorrow is another day, as one famous Southerner said, and Alex Anthopoulos will have his chances. And the Braves’ top-ranked farm system? Even with nine prospects forfeited to MLB sanctions, it’s still – this according to Law – No. 1.
We say again: If you’re going to dip heavily into such a bountiful system, you have to make the absolute right deal. Any Braves package of prospects will involve pitching. There will come a time when such a package will be offered and accepted. Just not this time, and not with this trade partner.