When Vlad Guerrero finally signed with Orioles, the Hot Stove League turned its lonely eyes to Rangers DH Michael Young. Luckily, for those of us whom are Hot Stove junkies, the Young saga has been one full of unpredictable twists and turns. It has not disappointed.
Last night, Troy Renck of the Denver Post shared another interesting twist. According to a source close to the Rockies, the team has pulled out of trade discussions with the Rangers, and plans to enter Spring Training with Ian Stewart as their starting third baseman. Not surprisingly, the primary factors in the talks breaking down were the Rangers trade demands and the $48M remaining on Young’s contract. As Renck reports, the Rangers asking price increased once Guerrero signed with the Orioles. Left without a replacement, the Rangers became apprehensive with the idea of giving Young away while eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.
As I reported the other day, Young’s contract is not one that will be easy to get around. In order to get teams to even considering sitting down at the negotiating table, the Rangers will likely have to agree to eat anywhere from $15-25M upfront. That’s just to get the ball rolling. Even with the Rangers eating a significant portion of the $48M remaining on Young’s contract, they’ll likely have to made additional concessions regarding the quality of players they receive back in return for the former All-Star. Understandably, this is going to be a very tough pill for the Rangers to swallow, but they made their bed with this situation a long time ago. They signed him to the contract, and now they have to live with the consequences of their decision.
The one thing that confuses me about Renck’s report is that the Rangers already have a viable replacement for Young, should he be traded: Mike Napoli. With C Yorvit Torrealba and 1B Mitch Moreland on the roster, Napoli would seem to fit naturally into the DH spot vacated by Young. With Napoli’s strong offensive skill set, it’s not unreasonable to think he could eclipse Young’s offensive output in 2011. I’ll admit that moving Napoli from a C/1B utility situation to a full time DH does make the Rangers weaker at catcher and first base. Still, I don’t believe it makes them weak enough to justify not moving Young. This is no time for the Rangers to be rigid. As a team trading a surplus player with a bad contract, they have little leverage in this situation. While I’m assuming the Rangers planned for him to split time between catcher and first base, this situation calls for their plans to remain fluid.
So how far has the situation between Young and the Rangers deteriorated? Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provides some particularly juicy information in his latest article.
“I asked for a trade because I’ve been misled and manipulated and I’m sick of it,” Young told FOXSports.com. “. . . I got pushed into a corner one too many times. I couldn’t take it any more.”
Young would not go into specifics, but hinted at a rift with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, saying, “I know the truth. And so does JD.” Daniels declined comment, but during a conference call with reporters earlier Monday, he referred certain questions to team president Nolan Ryan because Ryan had spoken with Young more recently.
Yikes! This is already a bad situation, and it’s poised to get even worse. As it stands, Young is unhappy, expensive, and at risk of losing playing time. It might be better for the Rangers to swallow their tongue, and take the best deal possible--even if that means they get little in return. As I said above, the Rangers don’t have a lot of leverage trading a surplus player with a bad contract.