The Texas Rangers have an interesting situation on their hands at the moment: what to do with Michael Young?
Young has been “the face of the franchise” for the past decade, the “heart and soul” of the ballclub, and a fan favorite. An unselfish team player and a leader in the clubhouse, he was considered the team’s next shortstop as a minor leaguer but moved to second base when Texas signed Alex Rodriguez; moved from second base back to shortstop after A-Rod left Texas and Alfonso Soriano came in; moved to third base to make room for rookie Elvis Andrus in 2009; and now is being asked to move to 1B/DH with the free-agent signing of Adrian Beltre.
Just one problem: Michael Young doesn’t hit like a 1B/DH.
Also, soon after the 2011 season begins, Young will become a “10-and-5″ man, meaning, someone who has played 10 years in MLB and at least 5 with his current club, and therefore will have the power to veto any trade.
The Rangers keep insisting that Young will be on the team on Opening Day, but they have to say that — to keep the drama to a minimum, to keep the fans happy, and to hold their leverage in any trade negotiations. Arte Moreno is on record as saying the Rangers offered Young to the Angels, so we know he’s on the block. Additionally, the Rangers were rumored to still be in play for Vlad Guerrero until he agreed to terms with the Orioles, which means they want more power in the lineup — power that Young can’t provide. Additionally, the Rangers already have two young, slugging 1B/DH types in Mitch Moreland and Chris Davis. So all signs are pointing toward a trade of Michael Young, despite what the Rangers say publicly.
Would Young be a good fit for the Mets?
Consider the following before answering …
The “problem” with Young is that he has 3 years and $48M left on his contract, and is nowhere near being a $16M/year player anymore (if he ever was). The Mets are looking to get OUT of expensive, long-term deals, so it would seem silly to consider taking on Young and the debt that comes with him. But hear me out.
What if the Mets traded Carlos Beltran (and his $18.5M contract) and Francisco Rodriguez ($11.5M + $3.5M buyout) to Texas in return for Young? Though the Mets would take on $48M over the next three years, they’d also shed over $17M from the 2011 budget (the combined $33.5M going off minus the $16M coming in). So essentially you have Michael Young for two more years (’11 and ’12) and $32M — still a lot of money, but consider the $39M coming off the books after 2011, when the contracts of Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo, and Jose Reyes lapse. Add in the fact that the Mets might not want to replace Reyes at shortstop with the light-hitting Ruben Tejada next year, and could conceivably shift Young to the position for the final two years of his deal. True, he’s nowhere near being a Gold Glove defender any more, but he might hit enough to make up for it. At worst, he stays at 2B, where he’ll be above-average offensively and make up for some of the offense if Tejada takes over at SS.
Additionally, there’s a chance the Mets could get the Rangers to throw some cash back in the deal, to alleviate some of the financial burden in ’12 and ’13.
Why would the Rangers do the deal? Easy – if they’re interested in Vlad Guerrero as a DH, they’d certainly be interested in Beltran, who might find a DH/OF role a better plan for his aching knee. K-Rod would step in as the Rangers’ closer, allowing them to move young flamethrower Neftali Feliz back into a starting role. Feliz excelled as a starter in the minors, and after losing out on Cliff Lee, the Rangers could use a potential ace in their rotation.
It could be a win-win situation for everyone involved; the Rangers get the slugger they need, plus the ace starter they need by way of getting a closer; the Mets get a second baseman who can potentially move to short next year; Beltran gets to play in a hitter’s park in his walk year; K-Rod gets to start fresh in a city that won’t harp on his past; and the Mets create some immediate flexibility in their budget, while not adversely affecting it going forward.
With Young stationed at second base and Beltran out of the picture, Angel Pagan becomes the starting centerfielder, Jason Bay moves to right field, and left field becomes a dogfight among youngsters Lucas Duda, Nick Evans, and Fernando Martinez, and veterans Willie Harris and Scott Hairston. Maybe Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus is tried out there as well, since scouts aren’t sold on him as an infielder. As for the bullpen, Bobby Parnell gets the chance to be a closer, with DJ Carrasco, Blaine Boyer, Manny Acosta, and Pedro Beato as the backup plan.
Don’t like the idea of trading Beltran and K-Rod? Then how about this: Jason Bay for Michael Young, with no cash considerations — just a straight-up deal. The Mets take on the 3/$48M of Young’s contract, but shed the 3/$51M left on Bay’s. Again, the Rangers get the slugger they need, and the Mets get the second baseman they need, while gaining an extra $3M flexibility. Probably too much of a wash; it depends on whether or not you think Bay will be more valuable to the Mets over the next three years than Young. My thinking is that going forward, it will be easier to find a corner outfielder than it is to find a second baseman and/or shortstop. Further, I’m counting on Jose Reyes leaving the Mets after ’11, and thinking that having Young around could help alleviate the resulting hole in the middle infield. Young wouldn’t necessarily be the everyday shortstop, but perhaps he could be part of the answer. I also like Young’s reputation as an on-field and off-field leader, and thinking those intangibles would help impart Terry Collins‘ new world order.
I doubt there is any chance of the Mets making a deal for Young, so consider this a “fantasy” post and up for discussion. What do you think? Would you trade for Michael Young? Comment below.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.