The Miami Marlins and outfielder Christian Yelich have agreed on an extension that will keep the 23-year-old budding star in Miami long-term. In a deal first reported to be close by MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the Marlins have locked up Yelich to a seven-year extension, guaranteeing him $50.82 million
Yelich will earn $49.57 million over the first seven years of the contract, while the Marlins will also hold an eighth year club option worth $15 million (for a maximum value of $63.32 million), that comes with a $1.25 million buyout. The deal essentially buys out two, potentially three, free agent years for Yelich, controlling him through the 2022 season. Per Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel, the contract does not include a no-trade clause.
The Marlins had reportedly made a run at locking up Yelich and numerous other young players (including Jose Fernandez, Marcell Ozuna, and Adeiny Hechavarria) earlier this offseason, with a proposed deal for Yelich being modeled after the six-year, $31.5 million extension Starling Marte was given by the Pirates last March. With his new deal, Yelich has greatly exceeded the guarantee afforded to Marte, while also giving up one less option year (Marte gave two the Pirates) to Miami.
Yelich, a first round pick by the Marlins in 2010, has been phenomenal in 933 big league plate appearances since joining Miami mid-way through the 2013 season. He has hit a combined .285/.365/.400 for a 116 wRC+, and has been worth 5.7 WAR, including 4.3 WAR last season. While Yelich has been outstanding offensively, he has proven to be elite in the field, winning a Gold Glove award last season and providing for 13 defensive runs saved and a 12.8 UZR in left field.
Yelich's signing represents the second major extension given out by the Marlins this offseason, joining the record-breaking thirteen-year, $325 million contract given to star slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins have now locked up two-thirds of their outfield for the foreseeable future, with the third member, Ozuna, also being a target for a long-term commitment. Barring health issues, it's not unreasonable to think that the Marlins could have the best outfield in baseball over the remainder of the decade.