Barry Jackson

The major reason the Marlins prioritized trading Yelich over Realmuto

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto hits a double against the Mets in September. Realmuto would like to be traded.
Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto hits a double against the Mets in September. Realmuto would like to be traded. pportal@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Marlins notes on a Tuesday:

▪ The Marlins felt more urgency to trade Christian Yelich than J.T. Realmuto, who also has asked for a trade, because they believed Yelich could become a sour presence in the clubhouse if he wasn’t traded, according to someone with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking.

Yelich was dealt to Milwaukee for four prospects Friday.

While Yelich’s agent went public with his dissatisfaction (with his client’s blessing), Realmuto’s agent (Jeff Berry) has declined to make any public comment and his client has not instructed him to do so.

The Marlins believe Realmuto will be a good soldier if he isn’t traded.

The Marlins feel no obligation to trade Realmuto and would only do it for an overwhelming haul in return. The Washington Nationals reportedly want Realmuto but are unwilling to give up either of their top two prospects.

Realmuto and second baseman Starlin Castro are the remaining Marlins who have expressed interest in being traded.

First baseman Justin Bour has not asked for a trade, according to a close associate.

▪ There was mixed reaction to the Yelich trade.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweeted: “Great trade by the Brewers getting Yelich with 5yrs of control and reasonable $58.25m remaining….[Outfielder Lewis] Brinson nor [infielder Insan] Diaz will ever be the complete player that Yelich is and is going to be … at least in my opinion.

“I think this Yelich for Brinson package will turn out with similar results to when I traded Paul O’Neill for Roberto Kelly … Brewers huge win….. Marlins return package way over-rated. [Marlins] making great progress towards landing overall first-round pick in 2019 June Amateur Draft.

Miami Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich talks about his home run and team's hot hitting in 7-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

But ESPN.com’s Keith Law said: “The Marlins did a good trade! They got three legitimate prospects back for Christian Yelich, and the fourth isn’t nothing, which makes this the best trade they’ve made in this cash-grab offseason.”

He said the Marlins received an “above-average everyday center fielder [Brinson] plus an above-average outfield prospect [Monte Harrison] plus a solid-average or better second-base prospect [Diaz] plus a potential middle reliever [Jordan Yamamoto] in exchange for Christian Yelich and his very team-friendly contract. That seems like a good haul for the Fish, and very much what they needed after several deals that didn’t bring back enough baseball talent.”

▪  Brinson went only 5 for 47 with 17 strikeouts with the Brewers last season but hit .287 with 89 home runs in 545 career minor-league games. MLB.com rated him the 13th-best prospect in baseball.

MLB.com said that Brinson as a hitter “has come a long way since signing. His swing has cleaned up nicely as he’s progressed without detracting from his plus raw power, while a more consistent and patient approach and improved pitch recognition have resulted in fewer strikeouts and more walks. Brinson’s speed represents yet another plus tool and translates on the basepaths as well as in center field, where it helps him to compensate for what at times can be shaky jumps and reads.

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto talks about rallying against the Mets and former teammate AJ Ramos on Tuesday.

“Few players in the Minors can match Brinson’s power and speed ceiling, the combination of which could make him a 30-homer/30-steal threat at maturity. Now a member of the rebuilding Marlins, Brinson has the upside to become a long-term staple in the club’s lineup.”

▪  Two of the top position player prospects acquired this winter — Brinson and former Cardinals outfielder Magneuris Sierra — are both center fielders. One could easily slide over to a corner outfield spot.

But acquiring Brinson allows the Marlins to give Sierra more time in the minors to start the season if they choose.

The Marlins need to sign at least one veteran outfielder, perhaps two, to play alongside Brinson (or Sierra) and Derek Dietrich to start the season. Braxton Lee also might get a chance to win a starting job out of spring training.

The Marlins could have had Ichiro Suzuki for $2 million but bypassed picking up his 2018 option; he remains unemployed and looking for work.

In a depressed free agent market, the Marlins should be able to find cheap outfield help close to the start of spring training.

▪  Alex Rodriguez, on an ESPN conference call Friday, told me he gave fleeting consideration to joining one of the Marlins’ ownership groups.

“You never say never,” he said. “For someone who just finished playing, I have two daughters. I just wanted to take a breath before I got back into the game at that level. I never thought about it too much, but I can’t tell you it didn’t run through my mind for a minute because I did receive a lot of phone calls.”

Rodriguez was asked by an out-of-market reporter for his thoughts on the Marlins trading their best players.

He did not answer directly, saying: “It’s been well-documented how much I love the game. I’ve been in Miami for a really long time and I’ve seen this happen more than once. I know the fans down there are extremely hungry for a winner. Miami has the potential to be one of the best baseball markets in the world. The greatest players in the world reside within 500 miles of the stadium.

“The Marlins have a similar opportunity to draft local players. … They have a diverse fan base. I wish them the best. I am hoping the local team does well.”

Fox and ESPN agreed to share A-Rod, with Rodriguez working in the Sunday night booth for ESPN and working in the studio for Fox.

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