Michael Young to Philadelphia Phillies Trade: Biggest Winners and Losers
The Texas Rangers have reportedly traded infielder/DH Michael Young to the Philadelphia Phillies for reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla, according to a tweet by MLB.com’s TR Sullivan:
Lindblom, Bonilla for Young as trade is done wp.me/p1rXwL-8WpT— TR Sullivan (@Sullivan_Ranger) December 8, 2012
The trade was confirmed a few minutes later in a separate tweet by MLB.com:
The Phillies will install Young as their starting third baseman, while the Rangers add depth to their pitching at the minor and major league levels. It was a great move by one team and a bit of a head-scratcher for the other.
Click through to see who are the immediate winners and losers of the Michael Young trade.
Winner: Texas Rangers
The Rangers would have likely won this trade even if they had simply given Young to the Phillies. ESPN.com's Richard Durrett reports that the Rangers will pay at least half of Young's 2013 salary, which still makes it a good deal for Texas.
Young is 36 and due to make $16 million in 2013, which is the final year of his contract. He is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, hitting .277 with eight home runs and 67 RBI in 156 games in 2012. Those numbers don’t look terrible at face value, but closer examination shows how Young hurt the Rangers by just being on the field.
Young had a .682 OPS and an OPS+ of 78 in 2012. According to FanGraphs.com, an OPS+ of 100 is considered average, so Young was well below replacement level with his offensive play. In theory, Texas would have had better production just by playing somebody from the minors in Young's place.
ESPN.com's Mark Simon also tweeted that Young posted one of the worst WARs in baseball last season:
New Phillies 3B Michael Young had the 2nd-lowest bWAR in MLB last season. He was valued at 2.4 Wins BELOW Replacement— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) December 8, 2012
The trade will make it easier for the Rangers to keep both of their young shortstops—Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. While they may still trade one to help fill another team need, Profar is no longer the odd man out and can slide into Young’s former role as a utility player.
Being able to move Young was a classic case of addition by subtraction for the Rangers.
Loser: Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen Depth
The Phillies gave up some intriguing young pitching talent for Young, and are assuming an aging player who has one year left on his contract.
The right-handed Lindblom was originally acquired from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino trade in 2012. He has averaged nearly a strikeout per inning during his career—a testament to his big fastball, which averaged 92.1 MPH last season according to FanGraphs.com. Bullpens often have interchangeable pieces, but replacing a cheap and talented pitcher like Lindblom is always tough.
Bonilla is a slim right-handed minor league reliever from the Dominican Republic. He has only pitched 21 games above Single-A in his career, and at the age of 22, is not close to being ready for the major leagues. However, he does have a career 2.50 ERA, and has averaged better than a strikeout per inning.
He could be the diamond in the rough teams traditionally seek as a secondary piece in a trade like this.
Loser: Philadelphia Phillies Defense
Third base was a black hole for the Phillies in 2012. Veteran Placido Polanco saw the lion’s share of playing time last season. While he played decent defense, he hit only .257 with two home runs in 90 games. The Phillies felt finding an upgrade was a priority for 2013.
While Young might be able to produce more than Polanco at the plate, he will fall far short of matching him in the field.
Young came up as a shortstop and has only played 358 total games in his major league career at third, including a combined 65 over the past two seasons. Declining players are typically moved off such demanding positions in the waning years of their careers; the opposite of what the Phillies plan to do with their new acquisition.
Young played about half of his games around the infield for Texas last season, resulting in a -2.2 dWAR. He has not had a positive dWAR since 2008 and should only continue to decline with age and regular play in the field.
Loser: Michael Young
Although ESPNDallas’ Richard Durrett recently reported Young was set to enter 2013 with an undefined role with the Rangers, his trade to the Phillies isn't putting him in a much better position.
As Young’s defensive ability abandoned him in recent years, Texas was able to hide those deficiencies by increasingly playing him at DH. During the past two seasons, he has played a little less than half of his games in the field. Moving to the National League will take away that security blanket.
Perhaps Young can regain a little of his former hitting ability, but it’s unlikely that he will be able to improve his putrid defense. The notoriously tough Phillies fans may not give him a long leash when they see the porous left side of the infield he will form with shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
If Young struggles with Philadelphia, it may impact his ability to get a decent final contract before he retires. Granted, any value he would give a team would be through his bat, but a trying season with the Phillies could impact his all-around game and lessen any offers he might receive next offseason.
Loser: Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona entered the offseason thinking about trading star outfielder Justin Upton and obtaining a quality shortstop. Many, including ESPN’s Buster Olney, felt that the Rangers were a good potential trading partner because of the logjam they had at shortstop with Andrus and Profar.
Now that Young has been dispatched, the Rangers may chose to move second baseman Ian Kinsler or Profar into the vacated utility role, lessening their need to trade one of their young shortstops.
With young, quality shortstops so hard to find, the Diamondbacks will be hard-pressed to find another team to trade with who fit so well with their own needs.
The Rangers still may elect to trade Andrus or Profar, but with Young’s departure opening up potential playing time for both, Texas has more leverage than they had in the past. The Diamondbacks may have to settle for a lesser option or hang on to Upton, who can't be pleased to see his name in trade rumors so often.
Statistics via BaseballReference