Michael Young has been the foundation of the Texas Rangers for many years. He has played his entire 11-year career with the Rangers and has been the unquestioned leader of the team during this time.
His .300 career batting average and Gold Glove-winning defense show how valuable Young has been to his team.
So why does it appear that he might be traded?
While Young is a huge asset for Texas, he is also a major liability. Young's contract has three years and $48 million remaining, which might restrict Texas from bolstering its team.
While Young is worthy of a big contract, Texas has other holes it needs to address that are more glaring than the infield. Though their rotation has the potential to be elite, the departure of Cliff Lee makes this staff much more vulnerable to inconsistency, especially with Brandon Webb's unknowns.
The Rangers infield is very crowded, and many signs point to Young being shipped off. In this article, I will provide 10 reasons why the odds of Young being traded are very high.
It is no secret that Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus will be favored over Michael Young. The two are a good deal younger than Young, and at their respective stages, Young is arguably the least dominant.
Earlier this year, Nelson Cruz avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $3.65 million contract. Come next winter, Cruz will likely be even more costly, and the Rangers cannot afford to lose a player with .300 batting average, 30 home run/30 stolen base potential.
Elvis Andrus is due for a multi-year contract in the near future. Andrus has the potential to be an elite shortstop, and the Rangers will do everything in their power to retain him. He will not be cheap, so the Rangers cannot afford to carry the burden of Young's contract.
In with the new and out with the old appears to be what is happening in Texas in some regard. Young will only hinder the Rangers from signing their players to big contracts.
Adrian Beltre had no problem finding teams that were willing to sign him. Young is a similar asset to Beltre. He is a solid hitter, though less fearsome than Beltre, who can play defense at a high level. Young also has a lot of flexibility with regard to position, as he can play any position in the infield.
Three teams that come to mind as potential suitors are the Oakland Athletics, the Los Angeles Angels and the Colorado Rockies.
The Athletics could certainly use some pop in their lineup, and their infield is mediocre at best. Young could be a nice replacement for either Mark Ellis, Kevin Kouzmanoff or Cliff Pennington.
The Angels were rumored to have been in the Beltre running, and it is clear that they are looking to win this year based on their Vernon Wells acquisition. Maicer Izturis is not a particularly encouraging third baseman for a team looking to vie for a championship, however. Michael Young would give the Angels much more encouragement.
The Rockies would be interesting because they recently spent money on Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. However, if they could work out a deal with Texas, Young would make the Rockies one of the favorites in the National League.
One of the reasons Young has been so valuable to the Rangers is because he has been a great leader. His experience, 11 years in Texas, has earned him respect among teammates, and his classiness has been an inspiration for many Rangers.
However, there appears to be a myriad of new leaders emerging in the Rangers dugout.
Whether it be Josh Hamilton, whose comeback story and incredible production as of late have turned many heads, taking the reins, or Adrian Beltre, who has the potential to lead his new team, the Rangers will not be without a leader if Young were to depart.
Thus, Young becomes even less valuable than he already is. There are many Major League Baseball teams who are more desperate for leadership than Texas.
How does Cliff Lee's departure make Young more tradeable? Well, in short, the Rangers pitching rotation is much less threatening without a clear ace, which makes the amount of money being spent on Young look even more ridiculous.
While C.J. Wilson and Brandon Webb have displayed ace-like qualities in their respective careers, it would be a stretch to expect either one of them to assume Lee's role. Wilson only started a game for the first time of his career in 2010, and Webb has been out of action since 2008.
Young is due to receive $16 million annually through 2013, a hefty price for a designated hitter. With that $16 million, the Rangers would hypothetically be able to acquire a upper-tier starter. Even if the Rangers were forced to take on some of Young's contract in a trade, they would still benefit from the money he would free up by leaving.
I understand that Chris Davis is a career .248 hitter and that he has struck out 278 times in his 806 career major league at-bats. However, he is much cheaper than Michael Young.
He has shown potential in the minors to be a solid power hitter, hitting 36 home runs in 2007. His batting average has never been spectacular; however, there is reason to believe it will rise in the future. Davis is only 24, and there is plenty of reason to be optimistic.
In his first season in the majors this year, Mitch Moreland hit nine home runs in just 47 games. This is not surprising, as he has displayed 25-30 home run potential in his minor league career.
However, even more encouraging is Moreland's potential as a pure hitter. He has hit over .320 in two of his four minor league seasons, reaching .331 in 2009. For the present, at least, Moreland will be inexpensive, and the Rangers may find him more appealing than Young.
As I mentioned earlier, Young has been a class act for the Rangers, and he has dedicated himself to the organization. On the other hand, over the past few years, Young has been treated very poorly by the Rangers.
When Elvis Andrus came onto the scene in 2009, the Rangers were quick to move their central figure in Young over to third base to accommodate their young prize. It is hard to believe Young did not view that as a slap in the face.
This winter, when Adrian Beltre was signed, apparently he was more important to the Rangers than Young, as the Rangers showed every intention that they were moving Young to first base. How thoughtful.
Furthermore, with the signing of Mike Napoli and the emergence of Mitch Moreland, it appears as if Young may be spending the majority of his time as the Rangers' designated hitter.
Maybe these moves were beneficial for the Rangers overall. However, it is clear that Young has been treated poorly, and it would make sense that he feels it is time to move on.
In 2009, Elvis Andrus had no problem snatching Young's job as shortstop. The Rangers did not even hesitate to give him the role, and he has lived up to his expectations. On the other hand, Young is an aging flex player who the Rangers have moved around without thinking twice.
Why would they hesitate? Young hit .284 last season, .016 below his career average. This is not a reason to expect Young to fall off a cliff in 2011; however, it is not encouraging given his age.
Despite 115 more at-bats in 2010, Young only walked three more times than in 2009. On top of that, his speed has been declining since 2007, falling to four stolen bases in six attempts this past season.
However, Andrus has stolen 32-plus bases in two straight seasons, saw his on-base percentage rise by .013 in 2010, has an impressive glove and is just 22 years old.
Andrus has top three potential at shortstop in his future. He will be among the next generation of superstars with Starlin Castro. On the contrary, Young is only getting older and is past his prime.
The Rangers recently traded reliever Frank Francisco to the Blue Jays in return for utility player Mike Napoli. Napoli has spent the majority of his career catching for the Angels. However, as of late he has been spending time at first base and designated hitter.
Napoli will be joining an already crowded Rangers roster that truly does not have enough room for Young in it anymore. Napoli is only a career .238 hitter; however, he has a very strong bat, and if he were to DH for Texas, one would think his offensive statistics would rise given his lack of defensive obligation.
Napoli is $10.2 million cheaper than Young, making him much more attractive.
The Rangers have a very talented pitching rotation. However, their rotation also has the potential to implode due to injuries and inconsistency.
Brandon Webb has been plagued by injuries over the past few years, and there is no telling how he will rebound. Derek Holland has shown tremendous potential; however, his earned run average has been a roller coaster over the past two years. Colby Lewis had a successful 2010 campaign, though he is no guarantee by any means.
In short, the Rangers could use some stability in their rotation.
Young's enormous contract will be a major roadblock if the Rangers opt to chase after another starting pitcher. Young will be making $16 million over each of the next three years. That money has better uses in the Texas organization.
The Adrian Beltre signing was the final straw that ended Young's reign on the left side of the infield.
The Rangers currently have seven strong infielders and designated hitters besides Young. Adrian Beltre, David Murphy, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Chris Davis, Mitch Moreland and Mike Napoli all could play the positions Young has the ability to play. Furthermore, they are all cheaper than Young.
Before the Adrian Beltre signing, Young appeared to have a place in Texas, probably still at third base. However, by signing Beltre, the Rangers made it clear that Young was no longer a priority in Texas.
It will be sad to see Young leave the team he has played for his entire career. However, all signs point to his departure, including his recent request for a trade, according to Rangers executives.