When Derek Jeter was initially named the Miami Marlins’ owner, Christian Yelich said he was excited. The then-Marlins outfielder grew up idolizing the former Yankees shortstop. He was optimistic for the chance to work with Jeter.
And then the trading spree began.
First, second baseman and three-time stolen base champion Dee Gordon was shipped to the Mariners. Then it was four-time All-Star and 2017 MVP Giancarlo Stanton heading to the Yankees. Two-time All-Star Marcell Ozuna shortly afterward was traded to the Cardinals. Yelich became the fourth domino to fall in Jeter and Co.’s payroll purge when he was traded last week to the Milwaukee Brewers for four prospects.
Yelich, who previously expressed his frustration with the organization’s trading approach and whose agent said his relationship with the team was “irretrievably broken,” said in an interview Wednesday with 790 The Ticket that he has “no hard feelings on my end” toward the Marlins. He wants Marlins fans to feel that way, too.
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“It’s going to get better,” Yelich said in the 10-minute radio interview about the state of the Marlins’ organization. “That is going to happen. I don’t know when that’s going to be — if it’s going to be this year or next year or whenever — but it’s going to get better.
“Just hang in there. It’s not going to be business as usual.”
It certainly wasn’t business as usual for Yelich this offseason as trade rumors and reports began swirling. Yelich said in the interview that he didn’t talk with Jeter or anyone else in the organization during the offseason. Each day, Yelich said his thoughts about whether he would actually be traded changed.
“You realize it’s a business and that teams are going to do what’s best for them,” Yelich said. “That’s how it is. That’s what we sign up for as a Major League Baseball player.”
Now that the trade is official, Yelich said he’s focused with the next phase of his career, a career that for the first time in eight years as a professional baseball player will not be tied to the Marlins organization.
He’s done well for himself so far. Yelich won a Gold Glove Award in 2014 for his defensive, a Silver Slugger Award in 2016 for a career year at the plate, and has hit 39 home runs over the past two seasons.
But a chance to play in the postseason has essentially been an afterthought while with the Marlins. In Yelich’s four-and-a-half seasons in the majors after being called up in 2013, the Marlins haven’t won more than 79 games in a given year.
Their struggles long predate even that. The Marlins have endured eight consecutive losing seasons and have missed the playoffs in 14 straight years. Seven managers have led the team through that stretch.
“You only have such a short time to play baseball in your career,” Yelich said. “Whether you play for five years or 15 years, it’s a short time in your life and I think everybody wants to win. That’s why you put in all the work. That’s why you do all the things you do. It’s to win.”
Now, Yelich’s goal is to win with the Brewers. Yelich said the move became reality for him on Sunday when he was on-hand for the Brewers’ annual fanfest in downtown Milwaukee.
“I had to do a couple double takes,” Yelich said. “You’ve got a new jersey on, a new hat and all that. Everything happened really fast. … It was a crazy like four or five days. It was just a unique experience.”