The Breakup: Baseball Style
One thing is for sure, the sordid details may not remain behind the scenes for much longer. Strong words from Young were reported late Monday.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Young made some very direct remarks to clear up any public misconception regarding the linking of his name to trade rumors. I’ll get to those in a moment.
Essentially, the dispute stems from the Rangers assuring Young
that they were not seeking to trade him, while reports continued to
persist that the team was still actively shopping him. Those reports did not sit well with Young.
This situation is clearly not some simple “change of heart” that was reported earlier in the day, leading Young to kindly request a trade. That could not be further from the truth according to Rangers infielder:
kept a low profile out of respect for the team, the coaching staff, my family and the fans because I didn’t want to put anybody on an unnecessary roller-coaster,” Young said in a brief phone conversation. “Now, I think it’s important to address the inaccurate portrayal that is being painted. The suggestion that I’ve simply had a change of heart and asked for a trade is a manipulation of the truth.”
“I want to be traded because I’ve been misled and manipulated and I’m sick of it.”
Those are words that absolutely no front office wants to have linked to their handling of players, particularly veterans who have been with a club almost long enough to gain those all too valuable 10-5 rights. Once those kick in, Young can veto any trade that Texas may agree to. Young may have declined to give specific details on the rift, but his days in Texas are no doubt numbered. To be expected, Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels had a markedly different take:
“It’s not our first choice,” Daniels said. “Our first choice is to continue
with our offseason plan and continue with Michael playing a pivotal role. He’s had a change of heart about that role. If we can accommodate his request and upgrade the club, we’d like to do that.”
Relationships between players and management can be bumpy in some cases, but this is the biggest verbal barb that I’ve heard a player slinging in the general direction of his current employer. Still, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that there have been more epic rifts and much worse things said behind closed doors. However, this particular situation has spilled over into the public forum, and I’m hard pressed to say that it isn’t at least partly justified.
While the Rangers are coming off their first trip to the World Series in franchise history, there is no question that they would like nothing more than to find their way back in 2011 and bring home the trophy this time around. It was to that end that they set about attempting to secure Cliff Lee to a very lucrative and long term contract this winter.
When that didn’t work, it turned out that Plan B was to allow aging designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero to seek his fortunes elsewhere and bring one of the best available hitters on the free agent market into the fray.
Unfortunately for Young, this is where things started to head south. The Rangers signed third baseman Adrian Beltre to a monster contract (six-years, $96 million) on January 5. It was on that day that you could consider my mind, much like Young’s, to be completely boggled.
Young has been a good soldier for the Rangers for the better part of a decade. He has previously changed positions not once but twice in order to accommodate the Rangers’ desire to add new faces to their infield. Coming off his first Gold Glove Award at any position in 2008, he wasn’t too pleased about having to shift from shortstop to third base
when Texas requested he do so. It turns out that the third time he was asked to move may have been strike three for Rangers management.
If the Rangers feel there are better ways to spend the $48 million remaining in the final three years of Young’s contract, they would probably be correct in that
assumption, given that he is now a
man without a position. They still contend that the plan to use Young as a designated hitter and super utility infielder should not be seen by the player as a downgrade. To make matters more complicated for the Rangers, suitable options for a replacement DH are now somewhat limited after Guerrero signed with the Baltimore Orioles.
Coming into his age 34 season, several reports on this situation have attempted to gauge what Young’s value would be. One of the factors for potential trade suitors to consider is how he would perform outside of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. His home/road splits point to the rather obvious fact that, like most Rangers hitters, Arlington has been very, very good to Young. Over the course of his career, Young’s work on the road (.279/.322/.411)
has been decent, but nothing compared to his line at home (.322/.372/.487).
There were plenty of reports linking the Rangers and Colorado Rockies in discussion involving a possible trade in December. The two sides may rekindle their earlier dialogue, but obstacles persist. Though Coors Field would help offset Young’s move away from hitter-friendly Arlington, the price would have to be
right for both sides.
The Rangers will have to offset the money owed to Young thanks to their now acrimonious relationship to make any deal work. In fairness, they would probably have had to do that before the falling out, but their current rift can’t be particularly good for leverage in trade talks. Colorado, or any interested team, may have to supply the Rangers with a suitable designated hitter.
Young can block trades to all but eight teams, but If I had to guess, I’d put the Dodgers and Padres in the mix with the Rockies. There doesn’t seem to be one clear front runner.