Athletics general manager Billy Beane said last October that he felt Daric Barton was the “best first baseman in the league” last season. My how things can change in a hurry.
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Barton was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento following tonight’s victory over the Mets. He was presumably sent down to make room for second baseman Mark Ellis, who is expected to return from the disabled list tomorrow.
Barton is batting just .212/.325/.267 with zero homers and 20 RBI over 280 plate appearances this season. The 25-year-old entered play Tuesday with the second lowest slugging percentage among qualified batters. Yes, only Chone Figgins is worse. Barton was dropped out of the No. 2 spot by former manager Bob Geren earlier this month and found himself on the bench over the past two games, so this move doesn’t come as a major surprise.
Conor Jackson will likely draw most of the starts at first base for now. The 29-year-old is hitting .258/.350/.321 with one home run, 19 RBI and a .670 OPS over 184 plate appearances this season.
Joe Longo, the agent of Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, said his client’s relationship with the Marlins is “irretrievably broken,” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He believes in the best interest of both Yelich and the Marlins to work out a trade before the start of spring training.
They have a plan. I respect that plan, but that plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career. He’s in the middle of the best years of his career, and having him be part of a 100-loss season is not really where [we] want to see him going.
The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.
He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He’s had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don’t see how it’s going to work.
This certainly comes as no surprise considering the offseason the Marlins have had after installing new ownership, going from Jeffrey Loria to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The club traded All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs last season, as well as Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. As Crasnick notes, Yelich isn’t the only player to express disappointment with the Marlins’ current direction — J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro have as well.
Yelich, 26, signed a seven-year, $49.57 million contract extension with the Marlins in March of 2015. Given his career performance, that’s a bargain of a contract, which is why more than a handful of teams have inquired with the Marlins about him this offseason. Yelich finished the past season with a .282/.369/.439 triple-slash line along with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances.