Christian Yelich watched his friends and teammates Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton get traded from the Marlins to greener pastures. They’ll both play for contenders this season, while Yelich remains stuck in Miami to play out his contract for a team that doesn’t actually care about winning too much right now.
Yelich, J.T. Realmuto, and Starlin Castro, the top assets left after the beginning of Miami’s fire sale, would very much like to get out of Miami at the earliest possible opportunity. With only few reports, it was still completely apparent that the relationship between the Marlins’ front office and these players wasn’t exactly the thing buddy comedies are made from.
Fortunately for anyone watching this situation and hoping it devolves further for entertainment purposes, there are even more reports now — and the comments are coming directly from Yelich’s agent! Joe Longo told ESPN that the relationship between he and the team is “irretrievably broken,” and that if the team attempts to keep him around, it would be “uncomfortable for both sides.”
His full statement, which doesn’t pull punches, makes exceedingly clear that Yelich should not be a part of the team come Opening Day this year.
“They have a plan. I respect that plan, but that plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career. He’s in the middle of the best years of his career, and having him be part of a 100-loss season is not really where [we] want to see him going.
The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.
He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He’s had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don’t see how it’s going to work.”
While the new Marlins ownership group hasn’t exactly instilled confidence in locals, longtime fans, or their own players, continuing to keep players on the roster who have repeatedly expressed frustration about being part of a team that looks to tank in 2018 and struggle to be successful for a few seasons after that would be escalating an already tense situation. Not to mention terrible for its (admittedly already terrible) PR efforts.
Longo headed off any criticisms of Yelich wanting out only two years after he signed a contract with Miami.
“It was a completely different climate at the time. They were built to win immediately. And that’s something Christian wanted to be a part of. The climate there when he signed was to win -- with a long-term vision. It’s completely changed now, and I don’t see him buying into the new business plan.
Each of the players [traded] was a good friend of his off the field. He understands this is a business. But with the depth of the talent that was traded off -- he was very shocked and saddened to see these people leave. They gutted the team on the position player side.”
The entire relationship seems like it could get uglier by the day if the Marlins don’t continue their tear down with a Yelich trade, and soon. While the team is saying they won’t acquiesce to such demands, public sympathy is probably not going to be on the side of a team that is jettisoning all of the positive features of its organization in order to make another buck. Holding out on Yelich’s request can’t possibly play well long term when the new owners are already in such a precarious position with fans.