Christian Yelich or J.T. Realmuto?

Christian Yelich or J.T. Realmuto?

While it’s been a slow, if not boring, off-season for baseball in general, it hasn’t been that for the Miami Marlins. It started with the sale of the team that finally allowed the franchise to separate itself from team owner Jeffrey Loria and bring in someone who wouldn’t embarrass the team on a daily bases. At least that was the plan. The new ownership, led by former Yankee great Derek Jeter, has had a remarkably hard time clearing that low bar. After trading away young stars Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton, and Marcell Ozuna for an astoundingly average collection of prospects, it seems Miami is ready to finish the deed and move OF Christian Yelich and C J.T. Realmuto.

This matters to Braves’ fans because while Miami is just entering a long rebuild, Atlanta is trying to leave theirs. 2018 will be year 4 of this long process and the Braves seem like they’re finally ready to not be bad. And nothing helps bad teams like adding good players. So this Jon Morosi tweet from last night shouldn’t have been much of a surprise:

 

Now “inquired” is about the weakest way to describe a team’s interest in certain players given every team in baseball has probably inquired about theses two. So we don’t want to get crazy. But having an official report linking the team to two guys of this caliber and having a GM known for always looking for the big deal means we can’t just ignore it. But as this report sunk in to Braves Twitter last night, there’s was one fact that kind of rose above the rest: the amount of prospect capital it would take to acquire these two would be enormous. Fellow WOW writer Ryan Cothran said it best I think:

 

Talking Chop’s Scott Coleman had a similar notion:

 

Even our favorite beat writer Dave O’Brien joined in:

 

And this isn’t a post telling you they’re wrong. They aren’t. They’re absolutely right in fact. The likelihood of getting one is slim. The likelihood of getting both is much slimmer. And the cost it would take to make it happen would terrify most Braves’ fans.

So the natural follow up question is, if you can only have one, which is it? Yelich or Realmuto?

Mark Bowman of MLB.com actually addressed this issue in his latest inbox series. Here’s what he said regarding which of the two to pursue:

Here is the portion where I irritate some of you by saying if given a choice of getting just one of the two remaining stars on the Marlins, I’d trade for J.T. Realmuto before acquiring Christian Yelich. I believe Yelich will continue to develop and have a great career, but it’s easier to find outfielders similar to him than it is to find a catcher like Realmuto, who is entering his first arbitration-eligible season.

And Bowman isn’t the only one to feel this way. I’ve seen several tweets in my TL making this same case. And it’s not a bad case. Realmuto does play the more scarce position and Atlanta currently has two catchers, both on 1-year contracts. Makes sense.

But here’s the thing. The right answer here is Yelich. It’s absolutely Yelich and I’m not sure it’s actually close. If you’ll allow me, I’ll present my case below and see how many of you who currently disagree I can persuade.

Let’s go.

First, while Realmuto would be great for the future, he barely moves the needle at all for Atlanta in 2018. Here’s his 2018 projection along with Atlanta’s duo:

The fact is, the 2018 outlook just isn’t that much different with full-time Realmuto than it is with the Braves tandem. Trading for him marginally upgrades the present which means a move for him is really more about the future.

Trading for Yelich significantly upgrades both. The current LF for the the Atlanta Braves is Lane Adams. Or Preston Tucker. Or maybe Nick Markakis. I’m not going to make a chart showing you how much better Yelich is than any 3 of those guys because, well, it should be obvious. It’s All-star vs replacement level. With Yelich, you get a 4 WAR outfielder for 2018 while still getting around 2.5 WAR from your catchers. It’s just a better team in 2018. Significantly better. Plus all the future value.

If you go the other way, you really haven’t improved the 2018 team much at all.

Speaking of future value, that’s our next point. We’ve already shown Yelich is the much more valuable piece in the present, given Atlanta’s current roster, but what about the future? Who brings Atlanta more value post 2018? Let’s look.

Realmuto is entering his first arbitration year in 2018, projected around $4M, which is dirt cheap for his talent. But like we said, Realmuto doesn’t really provide that much of an upgrade in 2018 from what Atlanta currently has so what you’re really buying are the years that follow. The problem is there’s only two of them, 2019 and 2020, before he hits the open market.

Yelich, on the other hand, is controlled for 5 more seasons, all 5 of which you’re getting significantly better from what you currently have. And he’s dirt cheap too. Like, hilariously cheap. In those 5 years Christian Yelich will make a total of $58M. That averages around 11M/year. He’s a 4 WAR player being paid like Nick Markakis.

And if you think that’s cheap now, just wait till next year when Bryce Harper is making $45 or $50M/year. The extra 2 years of control, extra 3 years of adding plus value to the team, and the incredible baragin of the contract puts the check mark in Yelich’s column for future value.

The last point is the positional scarcity Bowman brought up in his piece. Outfielders are much easier to find than catchers. That is a definitively true statement. The problem is it’s  entirely too general to apply here. In this specific case, the outfielder in question loses to no one in terms of scarcity. You’re welcome to look around baseball for an outfielder, controlled for 5 years, as young, as cheap, as talented, as healthy, with a proven major league track record, and as available as Christian Yelich. But you won’t find one. This kind of opportunity just doesn’t come along that often. Players like this don’t get traded, they get built around.

This is where I’m going to pause and point out that I love J.T. Realmuto as a player. I think he’s exceptionally good. This is an exercise in only being able to pick one. Please don’t mistake that as me bashing a guy. I simply prefer Yelich. Both are all-star level players.

Now I can’t end this thing without acknowledging that Yelich will likely cost more to acquire than Realmuto. This extra value will be factored into the price. And if you want to say you’d rather have Realmuto because he’ll cost less then there really isn’t much I can say. He will cost less because he offers less. But Miami has already stated they’ll need a ransom to move either guy. Realmuto is in no way going to be cheap. And when it’s all said and done, it wouldn’t surprise me if the difference in their cost is much more marginal than the difference in the value they’d bring, specifically to Atlanta. Plus there’s a certain joy knowing my outfield, for at least the next 5 years, would be Ronald Acuna, Ender Inciarte, and Christian Yelich that I can’t really quantify. It just makes me happier.

Anyway, did I sway you? Who would you rather have? Let me know.

17 Comments

Unless The Braves were willing to take along the contracts of Prado (2 year/$28.5 mil), Ziegler (1 year/$9 mil) and Wang (3 year/$52 mil)….taking a combined $89.5 mil of bad contracts off The Marlins (in effect, buying Yelich and Reamulto from The Marilns without having to give up any of our best prospects)….I would rather that The Braves STAY AWAY from this type of trade (at least in 2018).

I feel that by giving our young pitching prospects (both in Atlanta and in The Minors) one more year to develop…if AA decides to want to trade one ore more of them during The 2018 Free Agent Offseason, that not only will their trade value go up..but he’ll also only have to give up LESS OF THEM in any potential trades that fancies him.

The fact is that Atlanta simply is not ready to compete for a playoff spot in 2018. Dumping the farm for these two improvements…still leaves us with serious question marks not only in our starting rotation..but our bullpen (we dont have a hammer to close out games yet. Sure, Minter has immense promise…however he’s been injury prone, so has Vizcaino!).

Barring taking on those contracts in an effort to ‘buy’ Yelich and Reamulto….please AA…NO DICE!!!!!

I would rather wait. Let’s find out what we have with our prospects for one more year.
With guys like Harper, Pollock and Blackmon on the market next year, I don’t see the value in giving up the prospect capital it will take to bring in Yelich. We will have the money (roughly $80 million) to spend next year.

If we wait, and we are able to grab a FA to fill a spot, then we can use prospect capital to go out and fill a final hole or 2 to really be able to compete.

I would rather us be looking to trade Teheran and potentially Newcomb, Allard or Folty to open up some spots for higher upside guys.

Ted…..totally agree with you! I’d rather wait/keep our prospects….and see what we have at the end of the year.

However, a number of people seem to have a hard-on for Yelich! Either take on the bad contracts to offset giving up our good prospects (why should Atlanta be the ones to give up our best prospects to get Yelich…..when The Yankees and Cardinals all gave up Max Provse/Rob Whalen-like prospects for the likes of Stanton and Ozuna?)..or wait until The 2018 Free Agent Offseason to sign players who only cost money to acquire?

I dont care about what other teams have done with their prospects….I feel that our collection of arms could go down in history as being potentially the best of all time!

I’m a thousand percent all-in on the let’s get Yelich train! If it’s a choice between Yelich and Realmuto, it’s not even close.

Yelich fills out the Atlanta OF for years to come, and in a way that slots everyone into their best positional fit. Plus it’d give the Braves three guys capable of playing a ML level CF, with Inciarte and Acuna. That’s an outstandinf luxury to have because we all know players get hurt. It also could help to deepen the bench because you would be able to carry a bat first corner bat to deploy as your top pinch hitter.

Stephen, you basically summed up my feelings on Realmuto in the article. Realmuto’s a nice player, with a good skill set. As stated in the article though, he’s not much of an upgrade over FlowZuki. I’d pass.

Without a doubt, Yelich. Without context, Realmuto makes sense but with the current tandem and the number of good catching prospects in the minors, Realmuto does not make sense for the Braves, in specific. Jackson is the next Javy Lopez (anyone remember how many stories were written about Javy’s poor defense??) – a blaster with acceptable defense. Need to keep Flowers long term to back him up (would need to with Realmuto too). Waiting for Harper or Blackmun or other is a fool’s errand. The good thing about this idea is that the trade could include Pache who is essentially a future one-for-one projected replacement for Yelich only will mature when the Fish are ready to compete. Plus including Markakis gives the Fish a player for next year to replace Yelich. Beyond that you can include some high ranking pitcher or two in the lower minors that will also mature when the Fish are ready to compete but the Braves don’t need (Anderson?, Wentz?, Muller?) and some experienced AAAA pitcher(s) (Wisler, Blair, Hursh, or even Sims) and you have a deal without breaking the farm. I’d take on Ziegler to offset cost but not Prado. You could throw in a couple million bucks too. Next offseason, skip the OFs, ignore Machado (he wants to play SS), and target Kershaw. He’s the Maddux FA of our time. If we want to play in the FA market next year, we need to do some winning this year.

Roger, waiting until next year is not a fools errand. We have roughly $80 million freed up after this year. We will still have the prospects available and will also have a better idea of what they could become. If we are able to sign one or two free agents then we can use those same prospects to go after another need. There is also no guarantee that the Marlins will trade Yelich this year. And if they do trade him, there will probably be other players to be traded for. It happens every year. So, no I do not believe it’s a fools errand to wait on Yelich.

If you can trade for Yelich now then you don’t have to be concerned as much about competing for FAs next year. I guarantee, 100%, that the Braves will not get the FAs that they most desire next year. Not only that but they will not even be competitive in FA discussions against successful teams. The Braves absolutely owe it to the fans and the game to be competitive this year. They’re not really that far away. Bringing in Yelich would almost be like acquiring a prospect that has already graduated with as much control as he has left. The Braves are very thin at OF in the minors except for Pache (and Wilson and Waters who are ever further away) – none will be ready by 2019. Yelich would be better and cheaper than getting Harper, Pollock, or Blackmon. The Marlins might not trade him anyway but it makes no sense not to make a viable play. I’d say Pache, Anderson, Muller, Markakis +$2M for Yelich and Ziegler would be a fair trade and would not diminish the farm system very much. It would also not change the ability to compete in next year’s FA market either. The Marlins would not be able to turn that down. The Braves would automatically become competitive this year, could make a run at Kershaw next year, and be ready to bring up Riley and Jackson next year to resolve 3B and C. It’d be nice to get Todd Frazier on a one or two year contract (with an option) to make it all come together this year but not really necessary (note: Machado will be playing SS somewhere next year). Waiting to compete against the big boys for FAs is a fool’s errand. The time has come to compete now. I just can’t imagine spending $90-$110M and not trying to win. It’s obscene.

Roger,
If the Marlins would take a deal like that, then I’m pretty sure it would have been done a long time ago. The surplus value Yelich has on his contract should make that a straight no from the Marlins. There’s a better chance that it would take something closer to an Allard, Soroka, Pache, plus a lotto ticket type of prospect. That’s been the problem and that’s why I don’t want the Braves to make such a trade. That’s a one piece away type of trade and we are not there right now.

Ted…totally agree with you. I’ve been saying all along that we simply have too many questions to make a foolish/pipe-dreamish run for The Playoffs in 2018. 2018 should be all about giving our PLETHORA of young players a chance to play/develop (not just in Atlanta..but in The Minors as well. In other words…DO NOT trade them away!). We need to see exactly what we have going into The 2018 Free Agent Offseason.

If we trusted our scouts who made the picks from The 2015-17 Drafts..then let’s keep these pitchers and build our pitching staff FROM WITHIN! If we dont trust them…then AA should trade these prospects and fire those scouts and get new ones IMMEDIATELY!

When Coppy became the GM after the 2014 Season and began The Rebuild…I knew that realistically, it would take at least 5 seasons (Bobby Cox took over after The 1985 Season as GM of The Braves. The Braves basically STANK UP the place from 1986-1990…however that 1990 Season had the arrival of a number of young pieces that would be the cornerstone of the beginning of our 15 year run of success starting in 1991). I was sold on the losing of The Late 80’s..because of the collection of talent we acquired via The Draft (as well as the John Smoltz trade with Detroit in 1987).

I had a similar vibe when Coppy used the drafts and trades to stockpile a plethora of young talent (primarily pitching) the first few years of The Rebuild. I know that a lot of Braves fans are tired of the losing and would LOVE to see us make some moves to be competitive in 2018. However I feel that is being VERY SHORT SIGHTED! Giving up 4-5 top prospects for Yelich (possibly more for those who also want Relamuto) is simply STUPID/FOOLISH! Yelich is FAR from being ‘the final piece’.

One more year of development, if anything, will give The Braves a better idea of exactly what we have. I know that a number of Braves fans want to see McCarthy and Kazmir given starts to build up their trade value….however I feel that giving away 2/5ths of our starting slots away to pricey veterans who have NO FUTURE in Atlanta….only STIFLES opportunities that should be going to our young pitching prospects.

Our rotation should be Teheran, Folty, Gohara, Newcomb and Fried (with Sims the 1st option should something happen….while giving Soroka and Allard at least the 1st half of the season in Triple A to show us that their dominance of Double A in 2017 was no fluke. If a trade/injuries happens before that….then Medlen, Blair and/or Wisler could be called up to start a few games until it was time to call up Soroka and/or Allard). However with McCarthy pretty much guaranteed a spot in the rotation to open The 2018 Season…that leaves Fried either in The Bullpen or joining Soroka and Allard at Triple A to start 2018. If AA decides he wants to give Kazmir a chance in the rotation..that can only mean that Newcomb or Gohara will have a similar fate as Fried.

Pitching is extremely expensive. I dont care how team friendly Yelich’s contract is…..giving up 4-5 of our top pitching prospects for him…is STUPID! I’d rather keep our prospects and spend the money in The 2018 Free Agent Offseason to improve left field/3rd base!

Once we start winning in 2019 (which could very well mirror 1991)…I expect us to continue winning for quite some time (something that would be HELLA HARD to duplicate if we just BLOW THROUGH our Farm System because a number of you have serious HARD-ONS for Yelich!

Paul, I feel as if you’re assuming every one of these vaunted pitching prospects is going to progress positively with another year of development. When, in truth, pitching is a fickle beast. Developing pitching has always been about attrition- which is why the most successful teams (Cubs, Astros & Yankees) presently have largely used a model of developing positional talent. The fact that all of these guys have progressed fairly well is remarkable, but odds are their value will never be higher than it is now. So why not cash in a few chips for a guy who’ll be here for five years and still has upside? I mean no one is talking about for a thirty-two year old OF who would be a one year rental.

It’s the same as if someone offered you a hundred dollars cash or ten lottery tickets, really. Which would you rather have? Me, I want the certainty.

As an aside, the Braves probably aren’t going to spend the type of money it takes to land a “premier” free agent next offseason, either. It’s just not how business is done in Atlanta. They might be able land a guy like Charlie Blackmon, but I can guarantee you that’d pretty much be a disaster. His home/road splits are abysmal.

King….I totally agree that injuries, variance, not being able to adjust to pitching to MLB hitters…all play a role in the attrition rate of highly touted pitching prospects.

However, I feel that The Braves have a BETTER collection of pitching prospects than the average team has had historically. Also, given the unpredictability of attrition…how do we ‘pick’ the ones to trade (knowing for sure that the ones we trade ‘will not’ pan out)/how do we know which ones to ‘keep’? It’s an inexact science.

That’s why I propose that we simply KEEP THEM ALL…and let it play out! So what if we have some busts that we end up not getting anything for? I’d rather do that..than give away the next Smoltz/Maddux/Glavine! We have the payroll flexibility to PAY for offense via Free Agency! Given that we already have Albies and Acuna as cheap options the next three years at the top of the order (along with Freeman at $21 mil in each of the next 4 seasons….as well as Inciarte making, at most, $9 mil a year by the year 2022)…I feel that building a cheap pitching staff with our PLETHORA of MILB pitching prospects is the way to go!

Wow. If we took Chen and Prado then we would give up something that most would deal with. Prado will be needed in 18 and most of 19. If we could sign Prado to a two year FA deal to man 3rd while Riley developed for 14 million per—the braves night do that. So Prado is not a huge deal—Chen at 3 years at 21.5 is a lot of money. A new kemp maybe. But if he bounced back in 18–the 2nd half. Rehab the 1st while kaz and McCarthy are building their trade value—then after trading them take on Chen? It could happen. Probably not. It would make me feel better about the trade package — I also believe they will trade Realmuto once they have him to a luxury tax team who can’t take contracts. Just my personal belief.

I should start writing again. If only to get these things out there before they become public knowledge and/or discussion. lol

Anyway. I proposed the idea of trading for *both* Realmuto and Yelich to Thomas a little while ago. I noted the huge price tag on both and admitted that would be reason enough not to pursue either. However, there’s an old trade-talks concept that Thomas and I used to debate over…and that is when you package players together, you aren’t necessarily taking advantage of *each* player’s individual values, and that is the argument I used for this when I presented it to him.

Now, I can’t speak for Thomas and how he may feel about this concept now, years after this discussion of package value vs. individual value took place, but the base of the theory is that Player A’s worth is 2 B prospects and 2 C+’s. Player B’s worth is 1 B prospect and 1 C+. By simple addition, combining Player A and B together *should* get you 3 B’s and 3 C+’s. However, that isn’t how it usually works out in reality, as the team trading said players might end up with just 3 B’s and a C+, or worse….only two B’s and three C+’s or worse.

Obviously, that’s overly simplistic, but the general concept should hold true if the Marlins really do intend to trade both of Realmuto and Yelich. If there is an intent to trade both, there is a price tag at which both could be had. The players that would make up each price tag are bound to overlap in some way for high valued players like Realmuto and Yelich and that is where the Marlins might start to “lose value”, so to speak. If there are players the Marlins like…bludgeoning them with that name over and over again in discussion may allow the Braves to sneak away with both Yelich and Realmuto in a package for far less than they would have had to pay had they traded for them both individually.

That’s not to say the price will be cheap. It won’t be. As noted in the blog post by Stephen, zeroing in on Ryan Cothran’s quote, create the package *you* (personally) feel is the right price and it (likely) won’t be enough. While Ryan is accurate with that statement, it is also a generalization that Braves fans will generally massively overvalue their own players while ArmChairGMing. This is where you see a lot of people come up with some cockamamie ideas of trading Kurt Suzuki, Matt Wisler, Sam Freeman and Nick Markakis for Realmuto and Yelich (please note the sarcasm and over-exaggeration).

That said, there is *still* a price at which I believe this trade makes sense. It it’s not there, simply don’t pull the trigger.

Just as a side note. To cover the elephant in the room regarding the argument against Realmuto due to the minimal improvement he provides over Flowers/Suzuki in 2018 suggested by Stephen and this article. We are assuming a ton that both Flowers and Suzuki will produce into their age 32 and 34 seasons, respectively. That is a lot to assume. Besides that, each of Flowers/Suzuki are both only signed through 2018. While the Braves do have some depth at catcher in the minor league system, we do have to keep in mind that they are all still just hit or miss prospects at this point–or in other words, none of them are of the “can’t miss” Ronald Acuna-level of talent, nor are any of them readily available to play in the majors at a moment’s notice. Acquiring Realmuto, theoretically, only improves the Braves marginally in 2018….but the point is to acquire him so that you’ll also reap the rewards of the fruit in 2019 and 2020 as well when the team is supposed to be in contention. To argue that we are currently okay at catcher is a poor reason to not pursue Realmuto.

So in conclusion…pursue them both. Pursue it hard and seriously with an idea of how much you’re willing to pay for each of them individually. There will undoubtedly be a point where you can get both together for probably less than you were willing to pay for them individually…and that’s where you pull your trigger. If it doesn’t reach that point, you simply walk away knowing you did your due diligence.

Bryce, you raise an interesting point. That’d be a shrewd negotiating tactic. I have a feeling they’re going to be dealt separately, however. The rumor is the Nats are also in on both. When you look at Washington’s roster though it’s clear they have a need for Realmuto, whereas probably only a “want” for Yelich. I’ve also heard Houston and Texas kicked around as potential Realmuto suitors. Those are all clubs who’d probably be willing to outbid the Braves on Realmuto, based on circumstance.

When it comes to Yelich, I’ve heard the Dodgers and Giants both tossed out there as plausible destinations, in addition to the Braves. LA and SF really wouldn’t have a reason to aggressively pursue a catcher, though.

So from the Marlins perspective, it probably makes sense to market them individually. If they packaged them both, and dealt them in division, I think they’d try to bleed the Braves system dry. It’ll be interesting to follow the rumors as they come out, though. I’d be pretty darn happy if you ended up being right. Lol

I agree that they’ll likely be dealt separately, King. In fact, the Marlins would be wise to deal them individually to do the exact opposite of what I suggest packaging them together does. After having their first big trades of Stanton, Ozuna and Gordon completely hamstrung by finances and no-trade clauses, they have an obligation to their fan base to get as many quality prospects as they can out of Realmuto and Yelich. That would be the smart thing to do. It may even be the thing to do solely based on common sense. But we’ve seen in the past that people don’t necessarily do the smart thing, or fail even to use their common sense. We wouldn’t have the Darwin Awards, otherwise.

Basically, all of this is going to come down to luck. The Marlins’ GM needs to want your guys more so than he wants other guys from other teams. If he isn’t enamored with one or two of your prospects, there’s going to be no way of keeping him on the line as you try to get him to package the two players together and whittle the price down further. Man-crushes are real and as strong as love/lust. Fans suffer from it more so than general managers, but GMs aren’t immune either. As in relationships, people will do stupid things for lust and/or love. If the Marlins’ GM lusts after a particular prospect or group of prospects that you have, the door is always open for you to enter, take whatever you want and leave as the conquering hero. And I guess all I’m saying is that if this situation arises, even if it’s unlikely to…who’s to say it shouldn’t be taken advantage of?

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