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Blue Jays have interest in former NL MVP Christian Yelich, according to Jon Heyman

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Photo credit:John Fisher - Getty Images
Brennan Delaney
2 months ago
It seems more and more likely that the Blue Jays will make their big acquisition through trade.
As it stands, Toronto has three major needs, as well as pitching, as all teams do. Their biggest needs are with the bat, as the Blue Jays will need to add an outfielder, a third baseman, and a designated hitter.
There’s been speculation on who the Jays may add in the outfield. They were apparently in on Jung Hoo Lee before he signed with the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday. Another name they’ve apparently been interested in is Cody Bellinger, as he rebounded in 2023 after three rough seasons. The 2019 National League MVP would be a big get, but so would the latest name linked to the Jays.
The Jays have been “kicking around Yelich”, who was battling for the 2019 MVP with Bellinger, according to Jon Heyman. 
 
Like me, Yelich’s career peaked in 2019, where he slashed .329/.429/.671 with 44 home runs in 580 plate appearances, along with a 13.8 BB% and a 20.3 K% for a 174 wRC+ and a 7.2 fWAR. He fell short of his career-high 7.7 fWAR in 2018 when he won the National League MVP, but his performance in 2019 was good enough to be the runner up for the award.
Yelich’s career is intertwined with Bellinger’s, as he also dropped off starting in the 2020 season, producing a 4.2 fWAR between 2020 and 2022. For these three seasons, he slashed .243/.358/.388 with 35 home runs in 1393 plate appearances, well off the MVP calibre seasons he produced in the previous two seasons.
However, Yelich returned to form in 2023, slashing .278/.370/.447 with 19 home runs in 632 plate appearances. He had a 12.3 BB% and a 22.2 K% for a 122 wRC+, along with a 4.1 fWAR. These are strikingly similar numbers to Bellinger, who had a 134 wRC+ and a 4.1 fWAR after three poor seasons between 2020-2022.
Defensively, Yelich plays left field, accumulating 1051 innings at the position in 2023. The 32-year-old left-handed batter had a -3 Defensive Runs Saved and 4 Outs Above Average, with the former being a career-high. For his entire career, he has 15 DRS and 4 OAA in 7546.2 innings in left field, and hasn’t played centre field since 2019 and right field since 2021.
In early 2020, Yelich agreed to a seven-year, $188.5 million dollar deal. For the next five seasons, he’ll have a payroll of $26 million, with a luxury tax hit of $23,888,888. Yelich has a 2029 mutual option worth $20 million with a $6.5 million buyout if the option isn’t elected. Furthermore, he has a full no trade clause throughout his deal, meaning he’d have to agree to a trade.
It’s impossible to know if Yelich wants out of Milwaukee, who have made the playoffs in five of the last six years since acquiring the 2018 MVP. There’s significant risk in taking on his contract, as he still has yet to 20 home runs since his 44 home run performance in 2019. It seems unlikely that the Jays will trade for Yelich, but man, would he ever fit this team well.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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