Outside of the Miami Marlins fanbase, the Christian Yelich deal is pointed at by those who don’t know better as an example of what a franchise shouldn’t do.
Those in the know, that is, anyone who was paying attention, would know that the Miami Marlins actually did get quite a yield for Christian Yelich. Not an MVP-type yield, but nobody really knew that he was quite that good before he was, um, that good.
Regardless of if the Marlins got too little in return for the then-future National League Most Valuable Player, the fact remains that they did pick up four future major leaguers for him.
Lewis Brinson has famously underperformed, and hopefully should be on the upslope. Jordan Yamamoto looks to be part of the Miami Marlins starting five this coming Opening Day, and Monte Harrison is one of the most exciting players we’ve seen come through since – Yelich.
Isan Diaz also came over in the deal, and made his major league debut over the final two months of the 2019 campaign to mostly discouraging results. The five-foot-10, 185 lb. power-hitting Puerto Rican native hit just .173/.259/.307 in 49 contests, while striking out a shade under 30 percent of the time, with 59 whiffs in 201 plate appearances.
Diaz’ 51 OPS+ would have been the worst mark on any number of major league teams, but for the Miami Marlins last year, it was over twice that of trade-mate Brinson’s 24. Both batters, by the way, hit .173.
But Diaz also showed a little bit of power, clubbing five home runs with 23 RBI. Still just 23-years-old, Diaz will turn 24 at the end of May. Prior to joining the Miami Marlins last season, Diaz hit .305/.395/.578 with 26 round-trippers and 70 RBI in 102 games for the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League.
This spring, Diaz has already played in the first two games, and as gone two-for-three with a a walk and a strikeout thus far.
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Diaz is the current heir-apparent for second base through the 2020 season. He’s listed in front of Jonathan Villar, who could end up starting at second, short, third, or in center field, and Gosuke Katoh, who will likely end up starting the season with the Wichita Wind Surge nee Baby Cakes. Eddy Alvarez and Christian Lopes fill out the current depth chart.
Can Diaz work on his free swinging ways and drop his whiff-rate down to around the 25 percent mark and improve his average to somewhere around .250 with 15 home runs? If he can, the Marlins would probably be happy with that and count their blessings. If not, second base is the least deep position in the Marlins minor league feeder system, and they could end up shopping for a replacement in trade rather than promote from within.
Thanks for reading. Check back tomorrow as we check in with the “other” Diaz, first baseman Lewin.