Headlines were made last week when the Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles completed a trade, landing the O’s right-handed ace Corbin Burnes. With Burnes set to hit free agency after 2024 and the relationship between him and the organization severely damaged after his recent round through arbitration, it seemed like only a matter of time before he departed Milwaukee.
While the team did at least receive compensation for Burnes, it’s the latest blow for a Milwaukee organization that has lost its identity this off-season. It started when GM David Stearns left for the New York Mets, followed by manager (and former Rockie) Craig Counsell leaving to take over the dugout for the division-rival Chicago Cubs and co-ace Brandon Woodruff getting DFA’d after his late-season shoulder woes last year.
It’s been a major facelift for Milwaukee, one that seems like it’s not quite finished yet. This borderline tear-down could present a unique opportunity for the Colorado Rockies, who are looking to build-up their roster.
It’s no secret that the Rockies are largely holding-pat with their roster, but are on the lookout for a left-handed hitting outfielder. Well, as luck would have it, the Brewers have a quality lefty outfielder with a career 129 OPS+ that could be made available if they’re looking to shed salary: Christian Yelich.
Getting rid of a hitter roughly 30% better than average is generally not an appealing option for any organization and would usually demand a significant package in return. However, Milwaukee’s current direction is aimed in forming a new core and easing their financial burden to start building around stud prospect Jackson Churio.
This is where the Rockies could swoop in and try to land the 32-year-old Yellich at a minimal cost, offering to take on the remaining five-years, $130MM on his contract in lieu of a massive prospect haul. Sure, there would be assets exchanged in any deal, but the main point of the transaction would be the transfer of financial burden between two mid-market franchises.
All things being equal, the idea for acquiring Yelich is evident. The 2018 National League MVP and runner-up in 2019, Yelich has been above league-average every single season and owns a career .840 OPS in his 11-years with Miami and the Brew Crew.
Still a competent corner outfielder, Yelich can handle himself in the field for the foreseeable future and also holds a career .300/.389/.408 slash-line in an admittedly small 123 plate appearances in Coors Field.
Would the Rockies want to take on that financial commitment and does acquiring Yelich really move the needle enough for a squad that recently lost 103 games to instantly become a contender? Not really. However, with Charlie Blackmon’s tenure in Colorado likely coming to an end after the 2024 season, another productive veteran influence in the Colorado lineup after that is not the worst idea.
Playing time for upcoming prospects is a priority, and adding Yelich into the fold would require some creativity to get players like Jordan Beck, Yanquiel Fernandez and Zac Veen into the lineup in the coming seasons.
But Yelich is a proven commodity while Colorado’s prospects are still at a point of projected outcomes. Adding the prospects that prove their worth around a talent like Yelich could be the type of move that brings Colorado back into an realm of contention sooner than expected. This idea compounds if Kris Bryant ever starts living up to his pedigree at the same time.
It’s likely a far-fetched notion, and there has been no indication that the Brewers are actually shopping Yelich in the first place. However, if they are looking to shed salary, trading away Yelich would certainly free up the most payroll.
For the Rockies, it could be a unique opportunity to make a significant upgrade in an otherwise woeful lineup. One that could pay dividends in both the short and long-term.
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Drew Creasman broaches a number of topics in a season preview including potential breakout rookies, the state of the rotation, Charlie Blackmon and what a next step for Nolan Jones looks like.
A unique perspective on Todd Helton’s career is presented as Rockies’ official scorekeeper Jillian Geib describes her experience covering countless games with Helton in the Colorado lineup.
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