MIAMI – Miami Marlins general manager Michael Hill was traveling Thursday to participate in a series of marathons when he swung the team’s latest trade, sending center fielder Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers for four prospects.
And so the Marlins’ dismantling marathon continues.
Yelich became the fourth starter traded by the Marlins as they reduce payroll and rebuild their weak farm system under new CEO Derek Jeter. The Marlins earlier dealt away major league home run champion Giancarlo Stanton, stolen base champ Dee Gordon and All-Star left fielder Marcell Ozuna.
Hours later, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Brewers had signed free-agent outfielder Lorenzo Cain to a five-year deal worth $80 million. Cain, who turns 32 in April, began his career in Milwaukee before being included in the package sent to the Royals in 2010 for pitcher Zack Greinke.
Cain played in Kansas City since being acquired from Milwaukee in the Greinke trade. In 713 games for the Royals, he batted .289 with a .763 OPS, 56 home runs, 308 RBIs and 120 stolen bases. Last season, he batted .300 with a .803 OPS, 15 homers, 49 RBIs and 26 steals.
Hill made the trade as he began a trip to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Former Marlins executives David Samson and Jeff Conine are also taking part in the charity event.
“I’m boarding a plane for South Africa,” Hill said. “The job goes with you wherever you are. When the opportunity presents itself to make our organization better, you do what you need to do.”
Miami acquired highly regarded outfielder Lewis Brinson, infielder Isan Diaz, outfielder Monte Harrison and right-handed pitcher Jordan Yamamoto. Brinson, Diaz and Harrison were rated among the Brewers’ top 10 prospects.
Yelich batted .282 with 18 homers and 81 RBIs last year, and he is a career .290 hitter. In the wake of Miami’s earlier deals this offseason, he said he preferred to play elsewhere rather than be part of a rebuilding effort.
His preference wasn’t an impetus in the deal, Hill said.
Yelich said the emotions of the Marlins’ fire sale have been crazy and exhausting.
“There was a lot of stuff this offseason that was out of the norm,” he said. “For me it’s almost more of a relief that it’s over, and get back to playing baseball and doing what I love to do. … I’m just excited for the fresh start.”
Yelich will make $7 million this season in the third year of a $49.57 million, seven-year deal.
“We’re getting a player who is just now in the prime of his career, and we’re getting a player who can be a Milwaukee Brewer for the next five years,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said. “We view him as one of the bright young players in baseball.”
The outfielder’s market value was high because of his contract, and the haul of prospects may be the best yet for the Marlins.
“We’ve added three impactful position players and a middle-of-the-rotation starter,” Hill said.
The 23-year-old Brinson, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, batted .106 in 47 at-bats with the Brewers as a rookie last year but was rated as their top prospect. He’ll compete for a roster spot this spring, while the other three prospects likely will begin this season at Double-A, Hill said.
Miami hasn’t had a winning season since 2009 and went 77-85 last year. Season-ticket holders have complained about the direction of the franchise under Jeter, but he has said payroll and a stronger farm system are the only path to sustained success.
The Marlins might not be done dealing this winter. Catcher J.T. Realmuto, one of their few remaining established players, has requested a trade.
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