Buster Olney reports (via Karl Ravech) that the Rangers are “aggressively moving on (Adrian) Beltre.” This has led many to believe that the Yankees have won the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, and the Rangers have moved onto plan B. While this is certainly a logical train of thought, I’m entirely not sold.
The Rangers still have Michael Young entrenched as their starting third baseman. While there have been reports that the Rangers and Rockies have been involved in trade talks regarding Young, those talks have been inactive for the past four or five days. Sure, it’s possible those talks may re-open at some point down the road, but there’s no guarantee of that happening.
If the Rangers can’t find any takers for Young, they may look to carry both Beltre and Young on the roster at the same time. Beltre is much better defensively than Young, so Young would likely be the one to change positions. Yeah, I’m sure that will go over really well considering the temper tantrum he pulled after being asked to move off of shortstop to make room for Elvis Andrus.
So where would Young play? First base? Left/Right field? Designated Hitter? Any of those could theoretically work considering those positions are less physically demanding than the hot corner. That said, Young doesn’t have the kind of bat that plays particularly well at any of those positions. Therefore, his overall value could take a hit, as his positive defensive contributions would be negated by his weak bat (for the position).
The Rangers have a pretty savvy front office. I don’t think they’d put themselves in a position to lower Young’s trade value, especially since they’re interested in moving him. If they’re moving on Beltre, they’re either (a) close to trading Young, or (b) trying to drive up the price on the Angels. If they can pull off trading Young, signing Beltre (in addition to Lee) would be a huge coup for the Rangers. It would give the Rangers a huge advantage over the Angels for the next 3-4 seasons.
Lastly, I’m not convinced that Lee has decided to jump ship for New York. The Yankees put a slam dunk offer on the table (7 years $161M) that they knew the Rangers wouldn’t be able (or willing) to match. The longer he drags these negotiations along, the more likely it appears the Rangers will be able to retain the left-handed starting pitcher.