From the waters in South Florida to the city streets of the big apple, Jordan Yamamoto is now officially on the move. Yamamoto joins the New York Mets after just 18 starts and two years with the Miami Marlins.
The exact details of the deal have yet to be ironed out but even with that said, there’s a lot to be said about the move in general. While Yamamoto trades his fins in for a Mets uniform, the Marlins obtain minor league infielder Frederico Polanco. The departure of Yamamoto comes just a week after the Marlins inked Anthony Bass to a two-year deal and less than a week after he was designated for assignment.
A Fish that Just Couldn’t Swim
Yamamoto’s arrival to Florida’s south side came with significant fanfare. His arrival to the major league ranks meant the youngest of 25 Hawaiian-born players to play at the top level. Jordan Yamamoto was one of the four players acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in the lopsided deal for All-Star Christian Yelich. There was a lot riding on the four including Yamamoto, who was the only pitcher in the group alongside Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, and Isan Diaz. Despite the potential that (at times) rivaled those three, nothing really matriculated for Yamamoto.
The 2020 campaign was an utter disaster for the right-hander. In just over 11 innings, Yamamoto allowed eight home runs and seven walks. Hitters, in turn, produced 23 runs on 27 hits. That included giving up 11 hits and 12 earned runs against the Atlanta Braves who produced an NL-best 29 runs on September 9. The culprit could have come from a plethora of reasons. Reasons including dropping nearly two mph in his fastball velocity from 2019, which wasn’t that great, to begin with. On top of that, Yamamoto lost out on movement in four pitches from his six-pitch arsenal.
His command wasn’t as strong as the hype surrounding him was. Of course, all of that could have stemmed from a forearm strain that ended his 2019 campaign early. It may be a little soon to pass too much judgment on the young-gun. But this is a Marlins team with roster spots at a premium. It was just time for Yamamoto to depart the south side.
A Promise Not Yet Fulfilled
All of that comes after a very promising start for the 24-year old. In 2019, his initial MLB season, hitters squared up just 6.1 percent of barrels against Yamamoto. That’s a far cry from the 21.3 percent of barrels met in 2020. Despite being a little undersized, Jordan Yamamoto showed perhaps more promise than many prospects in their first season with a franchise. Giving up an All-Star caliber player in Yelich, the only chance to salvage the deal in Miami was to have all four players shine. Brinson, Yelich, and Diaz all showed skill to some degree at the major league level. However, unlike the prior three mentioned, Yamamoto trended in the wrong direction.
His first full season under the Miami Marlins organization saw the most promise with 118 strikeouts and a 1.82 ERA. All that came through 98.2 regular-season and Arizona Fall League innings combined. While questions arise as to whether he’ll gain a starting rotation spot, the former top-12 Marlins prospect (according to Fish Stripes) will most likely see action as a depth piece. Yamamoto’s still young enough and has shown just enough to even be in the conversation for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. That conversation became even louder with the departure of Steven Matz to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Polanco Potential
In its basic form, the removal of Yamamoto and the addition of Polanco is nothing more than swapping potential for potential. The 19-year old hasn’t advanced past the Dominican Summer League where his last appearance came back in 2019. Through that season, Polanco went through 231 plate appearances and touched up a slash line of .299/.383/.418. He did become a DSL All-Star but his lack of power projection had him outside the top-30 prospects for the Mets according to several sites such as Fangraphs.com and more.
In all, it’s a low-risk, high-reward scenario for the Marlins. Their hot young arms pushed Jordan Yamamoto out of South Florida. Meanwhile, their addition of Polanco could be that diamond in the rough that the franchise is still seeking out of Brinson. Also, with as much congestion is at the MLB ranks right now, the Marlins can afford to wait several years while Polanco develops. Polanco isn’t as highly desired as future ace Sixto Sanchez was at this point. The Marlins could think about taking their time and making sure the youngster can handle the bright lights.
Once again, this will go down not as a flashy trade, or even an impactful trade right now. It’s a move made for the long haul. It’s a move that’s part of the multi-layered approach by the Marlins and even the right approach for both Polanco and Yamamoto. Only time will tell but the future looks bright for all parties involved in the move.
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