There have been some pretty significant changes around the Miami Marlins over the past several months as the team is working hard to change their perception and culture. The Marlins have always been known as a penny-pinching franchise that rarely spends big in an attempt to win. Of course, when they tried to change that in 2012 it blew up in their face, but it certainly appears that they're doing it right this time around.
It all started with the contract that Miami gave to slugger Giancarlo Stanton, the best young hitter in all of baseball. They signed him to a monster deal, $325 million for 13 years, and in doing so showed the baseball world that they were serious about building a winner the right way. The fact that Stanton choose to remain with the Marlins meant that the team had convinced him they would construct a winning team around him, and in the months since he signed the deal they have done just that.
Miami has added several key players that filled the needs the team had following last season. The Marlins have also done a good job of developing their young players and it shows in their amazing starting outfield, which is widely considered one of the best in baseball. News started to trickle out on Wednesday that Miami was about to take another step towards securing a successful future by signing outfielder Christian Yelich to a long contract extension.
Yelich, who turned 23 in December, is one of the top young outfielders in the bigs and his development has been a pleasure to see. He has shown to be solid and consistent both at the plate and in the field and it appears that what we've seen is just the tip of the iceberg. While nothing has been confirmed, there are multiple reports that Miami has offered Yelich a 7-year contract worth $49.5 million. Here are the top reasons why the Marlins are very wise to lock up Yelich for a long long time.
Potential Bargain Deal
While in the short term the Marlins will now be paying Yelich more than they would have if they had waited until he was eligible for arbitration in 2017, the deal could very well end up being a bargain for Miami in the long run. If Yelich continues to grow and develop the way that many people around the league believes he will, signing him to a deal two years from now could cost Miami a whole lot more than what they're offering him now. The three arbitration years for Yelich could have easily cost the Marlins close to $50 million, which they are now paying him over a seven year period. Additionally, when those three years are up in 2020 it could've cost a whole heck of a lot more to keep him around beyond that.
For such a young hitter, Yelich has a remarkable ability to be patient at the plate and get on base. The 23-year-old has drawn 101 walks in 933 career plate appearances, paving the way for his impressive .365 on-base percentage. The Marlins started Yelich out in the leadoff spot and as his hitting prowess got better and better the team realized that they could move him down in the order. Envisioned as strong number three hitter, Yelich's ability to get on base combined with his wise baserunning skills will pay huge dividends as he continues to hit in front of Stanton.
You wouldn't think it by looking at his large 6-foot-4 frame but Yelich is a very speedy guy. It serves him well in the outfield as he has been able to make great diving plays look relatively easy while getting to the gaps and cutting off balls that would normally go for extra bases. He also led the Marlins with 21 stolen bases in 2014 and has converted on 82% of his steal attempts during his career.
Yelich opened a lot of eyes to his fielding skills last season, quickly showing his major league peers that even at such a young age his skills are right up there with the best of them. The baseball world took notice of Yelich in his first full season at the MLB level as he was awarded the Rawlings Gold Glove Award. The honor was well deserved as he led the majors with a .996 fielding percentage while patrolling left field for the Marlins.
Great Clubhouse Guy
He may be a little more on the quiet side compared to some of his Miami buddies but that doesn't mean Yelich isn't a great guy to have in your clubhouse. You probably aren't going to see him waiving a towel and marching up and down the dugout during a Marlins rally. Yelich is more of a lead by example kinda guy, but he is very well-liked by his teammates and plays an important role as one of the club's young leaders. A big part of the Marlins success has to do with the team's chemistry and that will most certainly be the case as they try to make the playoffs in 2015.
We've already mentioned Yelich's ability to move around in the batting order and have just as much success in the 3-hole as he has in the leadoff spot. He's also able to play any of the three outfield positions. One thing that isn't brought up a lot is that Yelich hasn't had to deal with any major injuries during his professional career. The only thing that comes to mind is when he had to miss 15 days with a back strain in June of last season. Staying healthy is key for someone who plays such an important role to his team and Yelich has proven to be a very durable guy.
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