It took a couple of days of debating, but Michael Young has finally accepted a trade that will send him to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for two young relievers. Because of his 10-5 rights, Young had the ability to veto the trade and remain with the Texas Rangers if he preferred. Many reported he wanted to finish his career with the Rangers and remain with his family in Texas, but, in the end, the guarantee of regular playing time was enough to convince him to move east. That, and $1.2-million.
During his 13-year career with the Rangers, Young has been a versatile and impactful player. He has played every infield position, been an All-Star seven times, and led the league in hits twice, including in 2011 when his .338 batting average was the American League’s third best. His batting average dipped to .277 last season, as did his power (8 home runs), while splitting time between DH, first base, second base, third base, and shortstop. He did still manage to get more than 600 at bats each of the last two years despite not having a regular position.
The Rangers could have kept Young as a DH and fill-in infielder, but decided it was time to move on. With Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, and Adrian Beltre in the infield and Mike Olt ready to take on a role very similar to Young’s, his playing time was only going to decrease. At $16-million dollars for the year, the Rangers thought it would be best to find Young a new home and bring in more pitching help. Even with having to eat $10-million of his salary, the team was still able to do just that.
So, instead of Young, the Rangers will have two new young pitchers to add to their already strong youth corps. Heading to Texas from Philadelphia are 25-year-old Josh Lindblom and minor leaguer Lisalverto Bonilla. In 74 games with the Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers last season, Lindblom was 3-5 with a 3.55 ERA and will likely join the Texas bullpen as a mid-to-late game option. The 22-year-old Bonilla, meanwhile, is probably not yet Major League ready. He reached the Double-A level last year where he developed more control of his pitches while maintaining and impressive 12.5 K/9 rate. He could join the Texas bullpen within a year or two.
For the Phillies, Young will provide the team a full-time third baseman and he will have positional stability he hasn’t had since 2010. He has also historically fared well both against National League opponents and in his new home ballpark in Philadelphia. In 211 interleague games, Young hit .318 and in 23 at bats at Citizens Bank Park he posted a .304 average. Both of those numbers are higher than his .301 career average. Though coming off a down year, the Phillies will still look to him to provide more of an offensive boost from their third basemen in 2012 who, combined, hit just .272 and added only 5 homeruns.
This move represents another trade for the Phillies this offseason, after also landing center fielder Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May. So, while improving their offense, the two moves have severely impacted the team’s pitching depth. That is leading some to believe they could still be big players in the free agent market, including making a play for Zack Greinke or, instead, continuing to add bats, perhaps even Josh Hamilton. Though the full market for Hamilton remains somewhat of a mystery, the players for Greinke seem to be the Rangers and Dodgers, but there was always the opportunity for a “mystery team” to enter the mix and the current situation in Philadelphia may allow the Phillies to join the fray.