There’s been an idea floating around the interwebbing tubes since the Vernon Wells trade and it seems to have intensified since Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos flipped Mike Napoli to the Rangers for Frank Francisco.
This idea had only really been proposed by a few bloggers and blog commenters and by some in-passing tweets, so I was willing to let it slide without comment, but now someone close to the Jays with knowledge of them has brought this idea to the forefront.
I picked up a copy of the Toronto Star yesterday and Jays’ columnist Richard Griffin wrote an article asking if Rangers infielder Michael Young could be the next piece of the puzzle in T.O.
Could it happen? Michael Young playing third base for the Blue Jays on opening day 2011 and Jose Bautista moving back to his preferred position of right field?
So, what Mr. Griffin is essentially saying here is that he thinks the Jays are logically looking at acquiring Young, but a couple things don’t quite jive here.
First off, the Jays and Rangers just completed the deal for Napoli and Francisco. Although it’s possible that they may hook up on a deal in the future, I firmly believe that if they were going to, they would have worked something out at that time.
Secondly, why would the Jays’ take on Young’s salary after finally unloading another contract that was considered an albatross for the franchise? After shedding Wells’ remaining 4 years and $86-million, why would Anthopoulos then trade for another player who is two years older than Wells and is under contract for 3 more years and $48-million?
Thirdly, Young is not at all a fit for this team. Yes, he’s a third-baseman and the Jays could, in theory, use another player who can man that position, but Young is 34 years old and horrid defensively. In fact, Young was one of the worst defensive third-basemen in all of baseball in 2010. Why do you think the Rangers went after Adrian Beltre?
Also, being that Young is in his mid-30s, he’s bound to start declining at the plate at any moment. In fact, you could argue that he already is. Take out his lofty 2009 numbers and it appears as though Young is losing his bat, slowly but surely.
In 2005, Young posted a career-best .899 OPS. Since then, he’s posted OPS numbers of .814 in 2006, .783 in 2007, .741 in 2008 and .774 last season.
His home run and RBI numbers stay up, but everything else is slowly heading southward. Young may not be declining as fast as some players but make no mistake, he will continue to get worse over the duration of his contract. Couple that with his atrocious defence and that $16-million per season looks like almost as much of an albatross as Wells’ deal.
On the one hand, the Jays need a starting third baseman if they want to move Bautista back to the outfield — where he believes his future lies — and tempt him to stay. On the other hand, the Rangers need to dump significant payroll if they want to remain close to the comfortable $64 million to $70 million (all figures U.S.) in total salary they’ve had since 2006. Yes, they have new, financially sound ownership but already, with 17 players under contract, their 2011 payroll without Young is $75.1 million.
First off, the Jays have made no indication that they even want to sign Bautista long-term until they have a better idea of what they’re getting from him going forward. The idea that acquiring Young would convince him to stay long-term is sort of missing the point and doesn’t make a lot of sense. It assumes that Bautista would leave if the Jays don’t acquire somebody to play third and that’s a completely baseless assumption.
Secondly, Griffin states that “the Rangers need to dump significant payroll,” which is actually quite untrue. The Rangers were ready and willing to fork over a lot of cash to keep Cliff Lee from walking and have stated publicly that they intend to increase the team’s salary going forward.
Young is still their most expensive player. With the signing of Adrian Beltre and the trade with the Jays that brought Mike Napoli over in exchange for reliever Frank Francisco, all of a sudden the 34-year-old Young is a backup at both third and first base. He’s still listed as the No. 1 DH, but Napoli is a power option there. So why would the Rangers want to pay Young $48 million for the next three years as a part-time glove?
I’m not saying that the Rangers wouldn’t trade Young if they could, but they probably aren’t too worried about playing Young in a DH/1B role with Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland. Considering Napoli will likely catch most often, Young will still have plenty of at-bats between the two positions; he’d hardly be a part time player.
Then Griffin goes off on a tangent that makes even less sense…
Need a clue that something with the Jays and Young could be in the works? Vernon Wells was asked during a Tuesday conference call where he’d been when Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos called to ask him to waive his no-trade clause, to consent to go to Anaheim in trade.
“I was at the Mavericks-Lakers game with my wife and, ironically, with Michael Young and his wife,” Wells said. “I got the call at halftime and missed most of the rest of the game.”
Ironically? Why would Wells use that word for something that was merely coincidental?
The reality of the financial crisis in Texas is that ever since the Rangers signed Beltre to play third, trading Young and his salary has been a distinct possibility. The Jays, after clearing the decks of the remaining $86 million on Wells’ contract — even including a reported $5 million cash payment to the Angels, even with taking two veteran salaries totalling $11 million off Anaheim’s hands — would have room for Young and his $16 million per over the next three years. If we’ve learned anything from Anthopoulos’s year-plus as GM, it’s that if there is a player of talent and controllability on the market, the Jays will ask about him and kick the tires.
Okay, so Wells and Young were together at a basketball game when Anthopoulos called Wells about the trade possibility. Then Wells wrongly used the word “ironically” and Griffin took that as inside information that Young could be headed to the Jays.
I think Alanis Morrisette taught us that ‘ironic’ is the most misused word in the English language; we probably shouldn’t take that too seriously.
Do I doubt that Anthopoulos has kicked the tires with Young? No. In fact, I think his job as a general manager is to do just that, even if there is virtually no interest. Not to mention that the Jays seem to be in on every rumour, no matter how small.
I’m sorry, but the Jays’ acquiring Young after finally unloading Wells would be counter-productive to the philosophy that Anthopoulos claims to be following.
If Young was a free agent, I think he’d be a spectacular pickup on a one-year deal for $5-million or less, but for three more years and $48-million? Come on, Mr. Griffin, does that make any sense given the direction of the team?
Finally, Griffin subtly criticizes the Jays’ front office for essentially throwing in the towel on 2011 before the season even begins…
On Wednesday, SI.com named Anthopoulos baseball’s top winner of the 2010-11 off-season. That’s very nice, but as far as Jays fans are concerned, Anthopoulos needs to do far more heading into next season in terms of trying to win now. Should fans simply cancel their 2011 season tickets and come back in 2012 when they are ready to compete?
Last time I checked, a team with a lineup that includes the reigning home run king and plenty of talented hitters such as Yunel Escobar, Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, and Travis Snider as well as a rotation with some of the best young talent in the league and a stacked bullpen with plenty of serviceable arms was an exciting team to watch.
The Jays’ may not be a full-fledged contender today, but the potential is there very soon, and hell, they could surprise people even in 2011 with a talented club and a terrific minor-league system.
Given what Jays’ fans have endured since their last playoff appearance in 1993, 2011 should be viewed as nothing but a positive; and Anthopoulos should be lauded for the job he’s done since taking over for J.P. Riccardi in 2009.
Adding another overpaid player well into their declining years is not the answer; it’s in fact a blind step backward. I would argue that Young would make the Jays only marginally better in 2011 and could weight them down significantly over the next few years. Completely. Not. Worth. It. It flat out flies in the face of logic.