Considering the fire sale the Marlins have been having these past few months, Miami outfielder Christian Yelich should be on almost every teams radar, especially the Blue Jays.
Prior to the holidays, when word first started to spread of the Blue Jays talking with Miami about Yelich, rumour had it the Marlins original asking price was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Upon hearing such an outrageous trade demand, I hope Ross Atkins’ immediate response was to tell the Marlins to get real and then hang up on those greedy and amateur negotiators from Miami.
As a Blue Jays fan, I most certainly wouldn’t part with Guerrero. Not unless the player coming back was named Mike Trout. You just don’t trade a player like Guerrero who has such an upside before they’ve even made it to the big leagues. But what if the asking price for Yelich included Toronto’s No.2 prospect, Bo Bichette…shouldn’t a player of Bichette’s immense talent and potential for growth be just as valuable to the Blue Jays as Guerrero?
With Bichette having never played a game in the majors, it’s impossible to say just how good he’ll be. I will say this though, in the 40+ year history of the Blue Jays, they’ve never had a player hit .362 in Single A as a 19 year old. Toronto’s all-time leaders in AVG (minimum 500 games played) are Roberto Alomar, Shannon Stewart, and Tony Fernandez, but even they didn’t come close to the .362 Bichette had in Single A last year. Although Alomar did hit .319 as a 19-year old in Double A…but the point is, a player like Bichette comes around very-very rarely.
How is one supposed to choose between an established, all-around player like Yelich, and a prospect such as Bichette who may end-up being the best contact hitter in baseball someday?
To make such a decision, a general manager would have to start by looking at the current and future needs of the Blue Jays, and what each of these players provides. The one area where Toronto’s lacking more than any other when it comes to high-end talent is in the outfield. Sure, they have plenty of outfielders (maybe even 5 or 6) who can hold their own in the big leagues. The Blue Jays aren’t lacking big league outfielders, what they’re lacking is star big league outfielders. Seeing as Yelich is a centerfielder who’s still only 26 and under contract until the end of 2022, Toronto could get a lot of good use out of him for years to come.
Bichette on the other hand, a shortstop, plays a position where the Blue Jays have as much depth as any other. Not only do they have Troy Tulowitzki for another three years, they also have a 27-year old Aledmys Diaz, plus a group of promising young shortstops in the minors that includes Logan Warmoth, Richard Urena, and Kevin Smith. Bichette doesn’t necessary have to play shortstop though. By the time he makes the jump to the big leagues, he may very well be playing 2nd base or even left-field for the Blue Jays. So the idea that Bichette is more tradeable because he plays a position (for the time being) where Toronto is quite strong should be a non-factor.
Toronto thinks they can win now, in which case the addition of Yelich may be worth the price (i.e. Bichette plus others) they’d have to pay to acquire him. Beyond the 2018 season though, it’s very difficult to predict how competitive the Blue Jays will be, in which case they’d be better off holding onto their top young talent and build for 2019 and beyond.
Having to choose between an up-and-comer like Bichette and a still young, but complete player like Yelich is a tough call to make. But seeing as Bichette is a talent unlike anything the Blue Jays have ever seen before, I say keep him.