Phillies Sign Delmon Young

The Phillies have signed Delmon Young to a one year, $750,000 contract.

Phillies fans — particularly those with a sabermetric bent — are up in arms. After all, Young has had multiple behavioral issues throughout his pro career; most recently, an anti-Semitic remark during a drunken rampage got him into trouble.

For certain, Young is a loose cannon. Absolutely, he is less-than-awesome at drawing walks (in a Jeff Francoeur kind of way) and is a below-average defender. On top of those issues, Young is coming off minor ankle surgery, that may or may not cause him to start the season on the DL. The Phillies plan to play him in right field, which is defensive suicide.

But, stepping away from the signing and looking at it through the lens of a Mets fan, a righthanded-hitting outfielder who hit 18 HR last year and 21 in 2010 was signed by another NL East team for a paltry $750,000.

Young likely would not have been a good fit in New York, for many reasons. But gee whiz — if it’s between one year and $750K for Delmon Young or two years and $8M for Scott Hairston, is there anything to think about?

Speaking of, with the Phillies signing Young it more or less eliminates Hairston from their free-agent hunting.

Would you have signed Delmon Young, if he would have agreed to play in Flushing for one year and $750,000? Answer in the comments.

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.
  1. TexasGusCC January 23, 2013 at 2:35 am
    Joe,
    Although the price seems very reasonable, it alone raises many questions:
    1. Young said he wasn’t ready to try out for teams until January, because his ankle wasn’t ready after the surgery. So, if his market just started, why did he sign so quickly at 11% of last year’s salary with a chance to go as high as 50%?
    2. With so many teams looking for a right handed bat and spring training a month away, why accept such a low amount when you are entering your peak years at 27?
    3. Why didn’t the Tigers even offer him that much?
    4. Wondering, how many teams even rang his agent’s phone?

    Even if he wanted to play for FREE, I would say no thank you. Between Duda and Young, we would need The Flash playing centerfield. Also, he is not worth the negativity that would be associated with him.

    The Mets are at a time when they cannot afford to turn away a large or even small segment of their fan base; and this would have. Also, ironically, yesterday Fangraphs had an article on Young. They noted that he has not shown improvement in ANY category since he came up side years ago at 21 years old. The article noted that whether it was lack of effort or lack of smarts, he has not improved. He was ranked no less than #3 from 2003-2007 as a prospect and #1 one time in there.

    The Twins gave him away to Detroit, and now Detroit is giving away a 27 year old with tons of ability, that everyone agrees to.

    However,I have an idea and would like some feedback:
    The White Sox in early December were offering De Aza or Viciedo for pitching. I like Viciedo. He’s 23, powerful, but seems to not wow the organization. Should The Mets offer Familia for him? Would the White Sox do it? Would you if you ran the Mets? Both are 23 year old prospects, but luckily, Viciedo hasn’t impressed in his year plus in the majors. Please respond.

    • Joe Janish January 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm
      Gus, you bring up good points. Let’s see if I can answer some of them.

      1. His market didn’t “just start,” because the surgery he had was far from career-threatening — it was fairly routine, involving the removal of bone spurs and related smoothing. Further, his game is not necessarily reliant on his legs; his main (only?) tool is his bat. So there was nothing to prevent teams from evaluating him and projecting his future performance. At the same time, it didn’t make sense for teams to make an offer until he could prove he was on target for full recovery by Opening Day (or shortly thereafter). So it wasn’t necessarily a “quick” sign after his workout — teams already knew what he could do, knew what they wanted to spend for him, and once they saw he was recovering successfully, the decision to sign him was uncomplicated.

      2. While there are many teams looking for a RH bat, not THAT many are looking for a RH bat to be an everyday corner outfielder. The Phillies are one of the few teams that could more or less guarantee a starting spot (for his to lose). As you point out, he’s 27 and going into his peak years — and he also needs to shed a bad reputation. The Phillies offer him an ideal situation to start every day and have the best year of his life, setting himself up for a big contract next winter. I’m not saying he WILL have the best year of his life — only suggesting that in Philly, his fate is in his hands.

      3. Young primarily filled the DH role for Detroit last year (118 games as DH). This year, they have Victor Martinez returning, who almost certainly will be the full-time DH. Their outfield is full, with Austin Jackson, Andy Dirks, Brennan Boesch, and Torii Hunter, among others. So the Tigers had no room for Young.

      4. I have no idea how many teams rang his agent’s phone. I would imagine there was some interest beyond the Phillies.

      Agreed that Young is likely to be a poor defender for Philly — I said as much in the post. Agreed that he has some baggage that could cause problems in NYC. I’m not sure I agree he’s not worth the negativity, because 1) it’s not a guarantee that he’ll have negative issues in 2013; and 2) the Mets have had PLENTY of players with negative issues in the past, and those issues were not what kept the fans away — losing did.

      It’s true that Young hasn’t improved in many areas. But, even his downward-trending numbers are better than any other outfielder in the entire Mets organization. You can quote all the stats you want, but the bottom line is that the Mets had zero power last year, and Young is one of the few OFs that the Mets can afford who has the potential to hit 20+ HR and 25-30+ doubles.

      Young could turn out to be a disaster in Philly. However, he could also turn out to be the best bargain of the year. Considering the Mets’ current financial situation, and their complete lack of MLB-quality outfielders, signing Young to a one-year deal worth less than a million dollars is a no-brainer — they have to take small gambles like this to have any chance of reaching .500 in 2013. My bet is that Young was not interested in signing with the Mets, rather than vice-versa.

      As for Viciedo, if I’m the Mets and I can get him for Familia, I do it in a heartbeat. But I’m not convinced that the ChiSox will be so quick to jettison a 23-year-old who just hit 25 HR. He may have some issues but he’s still very young and has gobs of power, at a time when power is at a premium. I’d be surprised to find out Chicago is shopping Viciedo; I’d think he’d step in as their everyday 1B in 2014, after Konerko and Dunn move on.

      • TexasGusCC January 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm
        Thank you Joe. What about the Viciedo for Familia part? Would you? Would they?
        • Joe Janish January 24, 2013 at 11:10 am
          I answered that in the last paragraph, no?
  2. Florian January 23, 2013 at 10:13 am
    Hi TexasGusCC, the Tigers were not offering him a contract mostly because he was not all that good. He had his moments, and hit great during the off-season, but that was about it. Opposing teams were often intentionally walking guys in front of him, and then get him to chase balls out of the strike zone.
  3. SiddFinch January 23, 2013 at 11:54 am
    For all his flaws, he’s still better than any option the Mets currently have on their roster for the OF. The Mets currently have an OF, that with the exception of Duda, is void of power hitters. One year at 750K would’ve been worth the investment on a guy who has something to prove in 2013. It must have been a combination of his the anti-Semitic remarks and poor OBP that really turned the Mets off, or possibly Young has no interest in playing in NYC. Otherwise, the Mets should’ve been all over a 27 year old power bat for $750K ( a $6 million paycut from his previous contract).
  4. Joe January 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm
    The Mets don’t really need some troublemaker type. The OP itself says “likely would not have been a good fit in New York, for many reasons” adding a “but …”

    not very convincing there.

  5. DaveSchneck January 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm
    Joe,
    Young to Philly doesn’t strike me as a big missed opportunity so long as the Mets do better, which of course is yet to be seen. If they somehow stand pat, Hairston goes elsewhere, and the break camp with this OF group, then yes, that is quite lame. Young is a decent risk, and unless the wheels fall off, he will earn closer to $3 mil than $750K. He also is more likely to put up bigger numbers in the Philly band box and be less of a defensive disaster due to the smaller OF. If Mets put him in RF and the Dude in LF, they would need Willie, Mickey, and the Duke in CF to support the pitching. Upton would be a much better fit, if Sandy can convince his buddy Towers to take Syndergaard in a package instead of Wheeler or D’Arnaud.
  6. MCR January 24, 2013 at 9:38 am
    His off-field behavior caused his market value to plummet. He would be a toxic addition to any team he joins. He might be a mixed bag on the field, but IMHO he will be a negative influence in the clubhouse and among the fans.
    • Joe Janish January 24, 2013 at 11:17 am
      It’s not Elijah Dukes, it’s Delmon Young.

      If the Mets actually had a Major League outfielder on their 40-man roster I would agree that Young’s past behavior would be an unnecessary risk for the Mets to take on. But they don’t, and they don’t have any money to spend, and teams that are in desperate situations like this have only to rely on opportunities like this to have a chance for a winning season.

      I think Young’s behavioral issues are blown way out of proportion. There were similar concerns when they took on Gary Sheffield — at a time when they were much less desperate — and his experience as a Met turned out fine.

      Hey, if the Mets pony up the dough for Michael Bourn, or pull off a miraculous deal for a quality MLB outfielder, then fine. But if the OF remains status quo between now and Opening Day, I stick by my belief that signing Young was a risk worth taking.