Should Twins Be Interested in Michael Young?

8 Feb

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In 2001, Michael Young became the starting 2B for the Texas Rangers. For three seasons, he teamed with Alex Rodriguez to form the keystone combination for the team. In 2004, Rodriguez was gone and Young moved to shortstop and his career took off. He has hit over .300 six out of eight years including winning a batting title in 2005 with a .331 average. He has hit 14 or more home runs six of eight seasons. He has driven in 90 or more runs five of the last seven years.

Yesterday, Michael Young formally requested a trade from the Texas Rangers, the team that called him up in September of 2001, and the team for whom he has been a starter since 2002. When the Rangers signed free agent Adrian Beltre this offseason to be their starting 3B, there was no longer a position for Young to play. Sure, he could be the team’s DH, but understandably the 34 year old does not want to be pigeon-holed as a DH quite yet in his career. Some may question Young’s loyalty, but to be fair, that loyalty is a two-way street, and the Rangers showed their loyalty to Young with the acquisition of Beltre.

The Rangers signed a younger, better 3B. It is a business, and Young has requested a trade, and here we are.

Young has a limited no-trade clause in which he could name eight teams to which he would accept a trade. To some surprise, the MInnesota Twins are on Young’s list. So immediately the question has to be asked, “Should the Twins consider acquiring Michael Young?”

Michael Young’s lowest OPS since 2003 is .741. I think Twins fans should be thrilled if either Tsuyoshi Nishioka or Alexi Casilla reach that number in 2011. I’m not going to try to convince anyone that Nishioka or Casilla are better hitters. But I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that Young will be 34 years old in 2011 while Casilla and Nishioka will both be 26 years old (And Danny Valencia will be 25).

However, it is fair to point out that Michael Young has not played shortstop since 2008. Yes, he won the AL Gold Glove for shortstop that year, but he also posted a UZR of -4.6. In the five seasons in which he was the Rangers’ starting shortstop, he accumulated a UZR of about -57. That has to account for something.

Young hasn’t played 2B on a regular basis since 2003, and he posted a -4.3 UZR that season. Does that mean he would be a bad 2B today? I don’t know, but the odds are that he wouldn’t be real strong.

Although Young has hit .300 for his career, his On-Base Percentage is just .347, so he is not a big fan of the walk. His career Slugging Percentage is .448. The last two years, he has hit 22 and 21 home runs, but that is in a very hitter-friendly ballpark. The Ballpark in Arlington was seventh a year ago in home run rate while Target Field ranked 30th. Of course, Michael Young has also been a doubles-machine throughout his career and Target Field was very conducive to doubles.

So, let’s factor all of that together and try to project what Michael Young would do for the Twins in 2011. Let’s give him a .300 batting average. We can probably put his Isolated Discipline at about .050. I think if we factor in Target Field’s affect, we can still be generous and give him a .140 Isolated Power. So, we are looking at a .300/.350/.440 line, good for a .790 OPS. My opinion is that may be optimistic, and if you want to drop his batting average to .280, his line is likely to be about .280/.330/.420, a .750 OPS. And, if you want to be an optimist (which I’m generally accused of) and give him a .320 batting average, then we have a line of .320/.370/.460, an OPS of .830.

So we have a probable range for Young’s OPS from .750 to .830, although I would project it to be in the .770-.790 range. Again, just to reiterate, Nishioka and Casilla will most likely not approach an OPS like that.

However, and I have intentionally not brought up money to this point, is a .790 OPS with bad defense worth $16 million over each of the next three years, his 34, 35 and 36 year old seasons? At what price would those numbers make sense for the Yankees or Red Sox, much less the Twins? Would he be worth $8 million a season? Would Michael Young get a three year, $24 million contract right now if he were a free agent. I think that’s about right. So, if the Rangers forked over $24 million to the Twins, would you want the Twins to acquire Young?

Would the Rangers be willing to pay $24 million of his remaining $48 million? They may have to if they want to trade him.

Then as a Twins fan, you have to ask yourself what you would be willing to give up in trade to acquire a 34 year old with an expected OPS of around .790 and bad defense who would be moving back to the middle infield where he hasn’t played for two years? Would you give up Aaron Hicks or Kyle Gibson? Of course not. Would you give up a package of 3-4 third-tier prospects to move Alexi Casilla back to the bench? 

I would put the odds of the Twins acquiring Michael Young at somewhere between 0 and 1 percent, and that might be high. A look at the numbers, factoring in his age, the dollars remaining on his contract, the trade package likely required, and frankly, I think Young makes no sense for the Twins.


If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me.


7 Responses to “Should Twins Be Interested in Michael Young?”

  1. TT February 8, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    You leave out another option. The Twins are counting on young players to establish themselves at three positions. Valencia is no more established than Casilla. The excitement about him is similar to the things we heard about Casilla after his first short stretch in the big leagues.

    If Young can play shortstop, he might make some sense as a utility infielder/backup. He would provide a lot of insurance if any of the three young players fail or get injured.

    I agree, the chances of the Twins going for him are very low right now. But that might change during spring training.

  2. Louie Schuth February 8, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    Some people could get confused by the MSP almanac section without a header or explanation of it.

    • Louie Schuth February 8, 2011 at 9:14 am #

      Never mind, that makes no sense, I didn’t look close enough.

  3. Chuck February 8, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Another option to make the money work a little easier would be to trade Young for Cuddyer + a couple prospects. Cuddy could slide into their RF opening. Young would likely best fit as the Twins 2B, sliding Nishioka to SS and Casilla to the utility role. I would also start Reverre in CF, shift DYoung to RF and Span to LF with Kubel still your DH. This base lineup would give the Twins a ton of flexibility, able to load up with hitters on occasion going to Young/Span/Kubel/Thome configuration (LF/CF/RH/DH) with Valencia/Nish/MYoung/Morneau (3B/SS/2B/1B). Or they could go speed/defense with Span/Reverre/DYoung/[Kubel,Thome,MYoung] (LF/CF/RH/DH) with Valencia/Nish/Casilla/Morneau (3B/SS/2B/1B).

    This would also give them a lot of depth across the infield and they’d wouldn’t lose a ton by letting Cuddy walk. They’d be basically upgrading their RH 5/6/7 hitter and adding depth and flexibility.

    The one downside I see is losing your back-up 1B in the event Morneau goes down, but I would venture to guess Young could handle 1B if he’s been adequate at 2B/SS/3B.

  4. Erich Manstein February 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    Correct me if wrong, when you list what ages our infielders will be, along with valencia, you lowballed valencia age a little bit. He just turned 26 a few months ago, will be 27 at the end of this season. Kinda makes you wonder how such a hot prospect can still be as old or older than some individuals who have already been playing in the majors for a while. I think delmon young is younger and liriano might be just a bit older. They’ve been playing already for a few years.

    • TT February 8, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

      Nishioka, Casilla and Valencia were all born within two months of one another in 1984. Span, Slowey and Mijares were also born that year. Delmon Young was born a year later. Valencia is late in arriving and that should be some cause for concern. But that doesn’t mean he is necessarily going to fail.

  5. mbrian February 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Many fans feel Cuddyer is overpaid. Well Michael Young is older, more expensive, and offers less offensive production than Cuddyer. Young’s infield defense probably isn’t much better than Cuddyer’s would be either. Young makes NO sense for the Twins.

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