The Hot Stove was trudging right along before the Brewers sent a wakeup call to the rest of MLB early Thursday evening while revamping their outfield in a major way. In addition to landing Christian Yelich from the Marlins in exchange for prospect outfielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison, infielder Isan Diaz, and right-handed pitcher Jordan Yamamoto, the club has reportedly brought home free agent Lorenzo Cain with a five-year, $80 million contract. That qualifies as going for it.
We’ll start with Yelich, the latest high-profile name traded by Miami this offseason. After seeing the deals involving Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, Yelich’s agent, Joe Longo, recently said that the outfielder’s relationship with the team was “irretrievably broken” and that a trade was the best outcome for both sides. While you can certainly criticize the overall plan of the new Marlins ownership, this deal qualifies as a win-win.
Trading Stanton was primarily about money and opinions on the Ozuna haul were mixed, but the Marlins managed to leverage Yelich into their best return package so far. Brinson immediately becomes the Marlins’ top prospect and should be starting in center field right away. Strikeouts are concern, but he’s an excellent defender with intriguing power and speed. Harrison is coming off a breakout season in the low minors while Diaz still carries plenty of promise even after a down year.
Yelich is an excellent player, but the key component in this deal is his contract, which includes $44.5 million guaranteed over the next four years. The Brewers could potentially have him for five years if they pick up his $15 million club option for 2022. It was going to be some rough sledding with a diminished supporting cast in Miami, but Yelich got his wish to play for a contender and now finds himself in one of the better ballparks in the game for left-handed hitters. His value in fantasy leagues just took a nice jump.
Entering Thursday, Carlos Santana’s three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies was the richest deal handed out this offseason, but Cain has topped it in his reported deal. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports wrote on Wednesday that Cain was weighing several four-year offers, but the Brewers were willing to add a fifth year in order to get a deal done. He’ll be 32 in April, so this contract might not look good on the back-end, but the Brewers will worry about that later. In the meantime, they have improved their offense while putting together one of the best defensive outfields in the game with Cain, Yelich, and Ryan Braun.
The Brewers probably aren’t done dealing, as they now have more outfielders than spots available. Coming off a breakout season, Domingo Santana could be a valuable chip as they attempt to make a deal for a starting pitcher. Keon Broxton could also find himself on the trade block. The Brewers still have some work to do to build upon their surprise 2017 campaign, but they just got a lot more interesting.
If a return to the Mets wasn’t in the cards for Jose Reyes this winter, it was fair to wonder whether he would be done in the majors. Putting aside the fact that he’s not the player that he once was, his domestic violence arrest understandably makes the possibility of a signing a non-starter with most teams. Fortunately for Reyes, the Mets apparently aren’t concerned about the P.R. hit involved.
As first reported by Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, Reyes will return to the Mets with a new one-year contract. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the deal carries a $2 million guarantee with an additional $500,000 in performance-based incentives. The plan calls for him to function in a utility role while the club continues to monitor the free agent and trade markets at second and third base. Asdrubal Cabrera still projects to be a starter (either at second or third base) while Wilmer Flores will be a backup infielder or platoon player.
Reyes, 34, got off to a miserable start last season before turning things around near the end of June. He batted .294/.357/.496 with nine homers over his final 69 games. And while he doesn’t have the speed he once did, he went 24-for-30 in stolen base attempts on the year. Reyes finished the year on a high note, but it would probably be bad news for the Mets if they are forced to rely on him for a semi-regular role again.
Quick Hits: According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Nationals are among the teams trying to acquire catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins … Charlie Blackmon said he’s willing to move out of the leadoff spot if it helps the team … Tigers general manager Al Avila said it’s “hard to predict” a potential trade involving Miguel Cabrera, citing his massive contract as a hurdle … Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers remain in contact with free agent outfielder Carlos Gomez … Tigers general manager Al Avila expects Michael Fulmer (elbow) to be at full strength for spring training … Carlos Rodon (shoulder) has yet to begin a throwing program and isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the 2018 season … Jordan Zimmermann will receive another precautionary nerve-blocking shot in his neck prior to spring training … Recent Rays acquisition Christian Arroyo, who required surgery on his left hand last July, hit off a tee Monday and Wednesday at Tropicana Field … Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder) has been cleared to resume throwing, though he is expected to miss the start of the 2018 season … Alex Wilson will be given a chance to compete for a rotation spot with the Tigers in the spring … The Royals signed infielder Ryan Goins to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training …