Michael Young has been the one consistent face on the Rangers over the last decade, but now it seems his days in Arlington may be coming to an end.
Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock have all come and gone, but Young has stayed. Through the losing, through the ownership quagmire, Young has been an All-Star six times, a versatile presence on the field (starting at three different positions), and a leader in the clubhouse.
But now he feels disrespected, and who can blame him? The Rangers signed Adrian Beltre to a massive free agent contract this offseason, displacing Young at third base. He agreed to serve primarily as a DH, but then Texas traded for Mike Napoli, who would certainly get some at bats there as well. Were the Rangers just trying to see how far they could push Young before he pushed back?
Well, they've found it. Young, forced into a corner, has done what was previously unthinkable and asked for a trade, and the Rangers have said they'll grant his wish.
Here are 10 places Young might be before the end of the week.
Despite the recent animosity, it still seems that the Rangers best bet to contend in 2011 would be to keep Young on board.
Whatever his perceived defensive shortfalls may be, he's been a consistent offensive producer throughout his career, especially in the friendly hitting confines of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Whatever his role in 2011, be it full-time DH, or platoon infielder, he would give Texas a solid bat in the middle of the lineup to protect Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre.
He's also somewhat difficult to trade, given the fact that he's owed $48 million over the next three years. Any potential trading partner will want the Rangers to eat a not-insignificant portion of that salary, diluting the value of anything they'd get in return.
They've also been through this before with him, as he asked for a trade back in 2009 and things were eventually smoothed over. Ideally, they should try to smooth things over again.
The Dodgers are still working through the divorce of the McCourts, but they've nevertheless popped up as a potential suitor for Young's services.
It's been a relatively quiet winter for the boys in blue, with the signings of Juan Uribe to play second base and Matt Guerrier to bolster the bullpen the only moves that have really made waves. The Dodgers still have Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal under contract for third base and shortstop, respectively, but Young would be an intriguing option to either replace one of them, or to platoon with both.
Plus, new manager Don Mattingly would love a guy like Young, who is a very similar hitter to the one Mattingly was, especially in his later years.
Obviously the A's are another division team, so there's that obstacle, but they've shown this offseason that they're willing to spend a bit more than we're used to seeing, and Young would round out their lineup nicely.
Billy Beane is never one to shy away from making bold moves, and acquiring Young would certainly qualify. One thing the A's have always seemed to lack in recent years has been consistent offense. They always have the pitching, but they've struggled to score runs.
They actually were another club that seriously pursued Adrian Beltre earlier this offseason, and they did land Hideki Matsui. Young would fit as a solution at third base now that Eric Chavez and his ancient back have finally been put out to pasture.
The Cubs are a team that wants to contend and aren't afraid to spend to do it, so taking on Young's salary wouldn't be as much of a sticking point for them.
Also, they have their own share of dissatisfied veterans with big contracts that they could seek to unload, including Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. Whether the Rangers would want any part of that pair is an open question, but even removing them from the equation, we could see something worked out.
Young still wants to play the field, and moving to the National League would allow him to do that. Chicago offers openings on the infield and a friendly hitting ballpark. And Texas would be happy to send Young to another league where they wouldn't have to go up against him.
The Cardinals were one of the teams that the Rangers talked to during the Winter Meetings regarding a possible deal for Young back then.
Though nothing really ever got off the ground in December, at least some groundwork was laid, and that could come into play now. St. Louis will certainly be seeking to upgrade its lineup in an effort to make impending mega-free agent Albert Pujols happy, and really the rest of the infield (apart from first base, which Pujols holds down) is an open question for the Cards.
The St. Louis fan base would appreciate a hard working, understated player like Young, and he'd be a good fit in a place where he could let guys like Pujols and Matt Holliday get the lion's share of the attention, while he quietly went about his business batting .300.
The Tigers are a franchise that seems to always be reinventing itself.
This season, they've already made major moves by saying goodbye to Johnny Damon and Armando Galarraga and signing free agent Victor Martinez. Making a move to land Young would further bolster their lineup and add a stable veteran presence to their clubhouse, something Jim Leyland would love.
With Carlos Guillen a free agent after 2011, and Brandon Inge a long-time fan favorite, but in reality, often inadequate at the plate, Young would make for an interesting infield mix in the Motor City.
Tampa Bay is a team that has undergone sweeping changes this offseason despite having won the AL East in 2011.
Gone are Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano, and Grant Balfour. Welcome to town, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. At this point, they've still lost more than they've gained, so adding another solid veteran bat and clubhouse leader would be prudent.
Obviously, Evan Longoria has a lock on third base, but other infield positions like second base are less locked down, and Young has the versatility to play any infield position, plus he can hit anywhere from second to sixth in the lineup.
Tampa could do worse than countering the disruptive presence of Manny with the calming influence of Young.
The Toronto Blue Jays have already made waves this winter by trading their own franchise mainstay, Vernon Wells, and then moving one of the guys he was traded for, Mike Napoli, within a few days.
They always seem to be playing catch-up with the traditional AL East powerhouses of the Yankees and Red Sox (and more and more now, the Rays), and scooping Young up this late in the game would be a bit of a coup for them.
Young could be another option as a DH, and part time infield utility man, and would solidify a lineup that has been weakened by the Blue Jays' other recent moves.
The Angels have expressed some interest in, it seems, at least kicking the tires with regards to Young.
The salary issue is there, but that would be an issue with any team looking to steal Young from Texas. After missing out (to the Rangers) in their pursuit of Adrian Beltre, and failing to sign either Johnny Damon or Vladimir Guerrero, the Angels could use another offseason splash.
It's been a relatively quiet one for the Halos, with their trade for Vernon Wells being the only major move they've made. But they still could stand to further upgrade their lineup, and Young is from Southern California. He was born in Covina, and went to school at UC Santa Barbara.
Sure, the Rangers would think twice about trading him within the division, but it's less of a crazy thought than it might seem.
The team that seems to be the one that everyone is talking about on this story is the Colorado Rockies.
They would want Young to be their new starting second baseman, as there is no veteran incumbent currently suited for the job. The top internal candidates as of now would be Jose Lopez and Eric Young, Jr. Michael Young (no relation to Eric) would also be able to fill the second hole in the Rockies' lineup.
The primary issue, though, again, would be the money. With long-term, big-money deals already inked this winter with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, and Ubaldo Jimenez' contract extension also a priority, Colorado isn't in a position to take on much additional salary. They'd want Texas to commit to chipping in around $20 million of Young's deal.
But if things continue to simmer in Arlington, they'll want to get what they can before Young has a chance to disrupt things further. At this point, I'd say Colorado is the front runner.