Chris B. Young Rumors

AL East Links: Cruz, Young, Greene, Pedroia

In his latest Insider-only piece for ESPN, Buster Olney expressed doubt that the Orioles would re-sign Nelson Cruz this winter.  The O’s are more likely to let Cruz go and pick up an extra draft pick (via the qualifying offer) since Cruz’s big season may have made him too expensive for Baltimore.  If the team looks for a right-handed bat to replace Cruz, Olney opines that the Braves’ Evan Gattis, rumored to be a trade candidate, would be a perfect fit as the Orioles’ new designated hitter.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Also from Olney, Yankees GM Brian Cashman originally passed on the idea of signing Chris Young when the team’s statistical analysts recommended that the Yankees pick up the recently-released Met.  Cashman’s change of heart paid off, as Young has a whopping 1.266 OPS in his short stint (29 PA) as a Yankee and three homers, including a walkoff to beat the Rays last Thursday.
  • Rookie right-hander Shane Greene‘s emergence has been a boon for the Yankees‘ injury-riddled rotation, and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post details the unlikely story of how Greene originally caught the eyes of team scouts.  Greene, a 15th-round draft pick in 2009, has a 3.56 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 2.92 K/BB rate over 68 1/3 IP this season.
  • Dustin Pedroia‘s contract extension was considered to be very team-friendly when it was signed last year, but ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes wonders if the Red Sox were too quick to extend Pedroia given how recurring injuries caused his performance to drop off in 2014.  The Sox already had Pedroia locked up through 2014 (with a team option for 2015) on a prior contract before tearing that deal up for his new extension that runs through the 2021 season.
  • The Rays‘ planned payroll cut might not be all that drastic, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes, as the team still plans to contend next season.  Any payroll saved “will be the product of trades and tough choices.”  For instance, Topkin thinks Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Joyce could be trade candidates, as both players will get raises in arbitration this winter.
  • Earlier today, MLBTR’s Steve Adams compiled more news from around the AL East.

Yankees To Sign Chris Young

The Yankees have agreed to terms with outfielder Chris Young on a minor league contract, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

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Young, a client of Reynolds Sports Management, began the season with New York’s other team after signing a one-year, $7.25MM contract in the offseason. The Mets were looking to buy low on a player that averaged 3.7 wins above replacement from 2010-12 before a down season in 2013, but unfortunately for all parties involved, Young’s struggles continued.

The former Diamondback batted just .205/.283/.346 in 287 plate appearances with the Mets before being designated for assignment and ultimately released earlier this month. Young, 30, can provide the injury-plagued Yankees with some additional outfield depth should he be added to the 40-man roster in advance of Sept. 1, when Major League rosters will expand.

With Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury locked into left and center field, respectively, Young could potentially join a right field mix that includes Ichiro Suzuki, Martin Prado, Zelous Wheeler and Carlos Beltran if added to the roster. He can also handle either of the other two outfield spots in the event of a day off or an injury for Ellsbury or Gardner, which could be significant, as Gardner has dealt with a right ankle injury over the past few days.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Minor Moves: Young, Slama, LaMarre, Wort, Mills

Here are today’s minor moves and outright assignments from around the league…

  • Outfielder Chris Young has been given his released by the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. The 30-year-old was recently designated for assignment after struggling for much of the season,. New York will remain on the hook for the rest of his $7.25MM salary this year (less any meager savings that might be achieved if he hooks on with another club at the league minimum rate).
  • The Dodgers have inked righty Anthony Slama to a minor league deal, per the MLB transactions page. Slama, 30, saw brief action with the Twins in 2010-11, and has never played in another MLB organization. The reliever had a great 2012 Triple-A campaign, but struggled at the level last year and ended up with the indy league Southern Maryland Blue Crabs for 2014. Having allowed just two earned runs over 16 1/3 frames, he was picked up by a Los Angeles organization that has been looking for pitching depth.
  • Designated for assignment by the Reds on Tuesday, outfielder Ryan LaMarre cleared release waivers and is now a free agent, tweets Cotillo. Cincinnati is talking with the 25-year-old about a new minor league deal, Cotillo adds.
  • The Diamondbacks have signed right-hander Rob Wort to a minor league deal and assigned him to short-season Class-A, according to the team’s transactions page. Wort, a former Nationals farmhand, had been pitching for the independent American Association’s Sioux City Explorers. The 25-year-old posted a sparkling 0.97 ERA with a 58-to-14 K/BB ratio in 37 innings with Sioux City this season. The relief prospect has never had much of an issue striking hitters out, as he averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine in five seasons in the Nationals organization, though he never progressed beyond Double-A.
  • Left-hander Brad Mills has accepted his outright assignment from the Blue Jays and will report to Triple-A Buffalo, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish. The 29-year-old southpaw, who is no stranger to being designated for assignment this season, was most recently DFA’ed by the Jays on Tuesday this week. He will look to continue his excellent Triple-A work in hopes of receiving another crack at the MLB roster.


Mets Designate Chris Young For Assignment

The Mets have designated outfielder Chris Young for assignment, the club announced. Matt den Dekker will be recalled to take his spot on the active roster.

Young, 30, signed a one-year, $7.25MM deal over the offseason to join the Mets. Though he had suffered through some injury and performance issues over the prior two seasons, Young seemed a reasonable bounceback candidate. After all, he demonstrated an above-average bat and good enough defense and baserunning to put up two straight seasons of four (fWAR) or five (rWAR) wins above replacement in 2010-11.

A return to form has obviously not come to pass in New York, as Young owns a .205/.283/.346 line through 287 plate appearances with eight home runs and seven stolen bases. Projection systems ZiPS and Steamer still expect Young to be an approximately league average hitter the rest of the way, but the Mets had little reason to wait on that turnaround at this point. With den Dekker lighting up PCL pitching to the tune of a .936 OPS, he’ll get a chance to audition for a big league job next year.


Mets Make Bartolo Colon Available

The Mets have made Bartolo Colon available in trades, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports.  The team isn’t thought to be seriously negotiating a Colon trade at this time, though a Major League source thinks the Mets will start hearing more offers on the veteran right-hander over the next week.

It was reported last week that the Mets were listening to offers for the 41-year-old Colon, who fits as a trade chip given his contract ($3.75MM remaining this season and $11MM in 2015) and the fact that New York has the young pitching depth to take Colon’s spot in the rotation both this season and next.  The Mets could wait until past the July 31st deadline to move Colon and “it is not a foregone conclusion that he will be dealt” at all, Rubin writes.

The Mets’ deadline needs include a power-hitting left fielder and a shortstop who can supplant Ruben Tejada, Rubin reports, though these pieces wouldn’t necessarily come from a Colon trade.  (While Colon is still pitching effectively, his age will likely prevent the Mets from landing a true impact young player in return.)  The Diamondbacks and Cubs stand out as teams with a possible surplus at shortstop, and the Mets have been connected to Didi Gregorius in the past, though Rubin hears that Tony La Russa is still evaluating Arizona’s roster and may wait until the offseason for major moves.

As for the Cubs, the addition of Addison Russell to an organization that already has Starlin Castro in the bigs and star prospect Javier Baez at Triple-A would seem to make them trade partners for the Mets as well.  Rubin says that Baez “is believed to be a more realistic target” for the Mets, though it would take a major deal to get Chicago to part with a player who is a consensus top-10 prospect in baseball, despite Baez’s underwhelming Triple-A numbers this season.

To create room in the outfield, the Mets are trying to find trades for Chris Young and Eric Young Jr.  Neither player is enjoying a particularly strong season, though Young Jr. will be more attractive to other teams due to his speed (25-for-28 in steals) and two remaining years of team control, whereas Chris Young is owed over $3MM for the rest of the year.


Latest On Mets, Chris Young

1:44pm: GM Sandy Alderson went on record with Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News (Twitter link) and called reports of Young’s potential release “simply inaccurate.”

10:20am: When asked if releasing Young is a possibility, a Mets official responded with a blunt “no,” tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.

9:29am: A Mets insider tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that Chris Young‘s days with the organization “are numbered.”  The Mets, who would have to eat the remainder of Young’s $7.25MM salary, are debating internally whether to pull the trigger this week.

The Mets could cut ties with Young on Thursday when Juan Lagares is expected to be brought up from his rehab assignment.  The Mets could free up a roster spot by demoting Kirk Nieuwenhuis to Triple-A, but they might prefer to cut Young loose instead.

The Mets are slated to face A’s left-handers Scott Kazmir and Brad Mills, so Young could have an opportunity to change minds in the club’s front office.  Because of the matchups, the lefty-hitting Nieuwenhuis probably won’t get a chance to state his case for staying on the varsity squad.

General Manager Sandy Alderson signed Young to a one-year, $7.25MM deal after a rough season in Oakland where he slashed .200/.280/.379.  So far, Young has followed that up with even worse offensive production.  The 30-year-old is hitting .201/.284/.313 through 58 games.


NL Notes: Hanley, Samardzija, Young, Severino

It’s time to move Hanley Ramirez from shortstop to third base, writes Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Saxon notes that advanced defensive metrics paint Ramirez as the worst shortstop in the Majors, and with Juan Uribe out for weeks (if not months) and a heavy emphasis on pitching, going with the best defensive alignment makes sense. Uribe could be used in a super-utility role upon his return, with Erisbel Arruebarrena and Dee Gordon forming a solid middle-infield tandem, he argues.

Here are some more notes from the Senior Circuit…

  • The landscape in the upcoming Jeff Samardzija sweepstakes is beginning to take shape, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Sun-Times. Gonzalez runs down all of the factors that could determine where Samardzija is dealt (assuming, of course, that he is indeed traded) and examines how the tight race in the AL East benefits the Cubs. An Orioles source told Gonzales last week that they feel they’re in a window to contend through 2015. He also speculates that the Red Sox might be a sleeper for Samardzija given their strong pitching and catching depth in the minors.
  • Earlier in the week, Mets GM Sandy Alderson appeared on 98.7 ESPN radio to tackle some criticism he’s received for signing Chris Young for just $750K less than Nelson Cruz received from the Orioles. Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog has highlights from the talk, in which Alderson calls such talk an “unfair comparison,” given the fact that Cruz was seeking $65MM at the time and only was an option in left field. Alderson said the team was searching for an outfielder that could handle center field and provide some pop with a .240-.250 average.
  • The Washington Post’s James Wagner looks at the unlikely story of Nationals prospect Pedro Severino, who almost quit baseball after being asked to become a full-time catcher and is now among the organization’s best prospects at the position. Severino caught his first game at age 15 (he had preferred third base at the time) because the team’s regular catcher failed to show up. He impressed his coaches by gunning down a base stealer, and they asked him to stay there. Four months after nearly quitting, the Nats signed him as a 16-year-old catcher for $55K. Now, Severino says, he wouldn’t dream of playing another position. Though his offensive numbers are low, the Nats coaches and front office aren’t worried, as they’ve placed him in leagues where he’s three years younger than the average player in order to challenge Severino.

NL East Notes: Young, Cano, Nationals, Uggla, Marlins

The Mets surprised some observers when they gave outfielder Chris Young a one-year, $7.25MM contract to kick off their offseason.  However, they weren't the only club with interest.  Young says that the Cubs, Giants, Royals, and Red Sox all reached out to him, but the Mets were aggressive, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.  Here's a look at the latest out of the NL East..

  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post makes the case for the Nationals to go after Robinson Cano.  Some would argue that the Nats should go after a similarly high-impact player that will fill an actual hole for them, but Kilgore says that such a player may not come along for Washington in today's landscape. 
  • In today's inbox, a reader asks Joe Frisaro of MLB.com if there's a possibility that Dan Uggla could return to the Marlins this winter.  Frisaro doesn't see the second baseman coming back to Miami since his cost and declining numbers over past two seasons raise red flags.  Besides that, bringing him back would block Derek Dietrich and/or Donovan Solano from playing second.
  • The Marlins announced two additions to their baseball operations staff.  Mike Berger was named Vice President/Assistant GM while Jeff McAvoy will take over as the new Director of Pro Scouting.

Mets Sign Chris B. Young

The Mets have stated a desire to add some offense to their club, and they kicked off their free agent spending by inking veteran outfielder Chris Young to a one-year contract that is reportedly worth $7.25MM. The Mets officially announced the signing of Young, a client of Reynolds Sports Management, Tuesday afternoon.

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Young spent last season with the A's after being acquired in the three-team deal with the Marlins and Diamondbacks that sent Heath Bell to Arizona. Oakland turned down an $11MM option on Young after the powerful right-handed swinger slashed just .200/.280/.379. Young still managed to club 12 homers, and part of his downturn in batting average to do with a career-worst .237 batting average on balls in play. The low average can't be chalked up solely to poor luck though, as Young's strikeout rate climbed to nearly 25 percent and his 17.5 percent infield flyball rate was the ninth highest in baseball among players with 350 plate appearances.

Young typically grades out as a strong defender and is capable of playing all three outfield spots, making him a valuable pickup for defensive purposes alone. He also owns a career .262/.363/.474 batting line against left-handed pitching. If he can cut down the pop-ups and punchouts a bit, Young could return to the form that saw him average 3.7 fWAR and 4.2 rWAR from 2010-12 with the D-Backs.

Obviously, with Young coming off a poor season, the budget-conscious Athletics did not make him qualifying offer. The Mets, therefore, aren't required to surrender a draft pick to sign him. The Mets have prioritized adding bats early this offseason, and Young figures to be a low-cost option that will still allow them to pursue bigger fish like Nelson CruzCurtis Granderson and Jhonny Peralta.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported the signing. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that it was a one-year deal, and ESPN's Buster Olney reported the $7.25MM salary (Twitter link).

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Astros Links: Ryan, Young, Hawkins, Tanaka

Astros owner Jim Crane has spoken to Nolan Ryan in the month since he left the Rangers organization, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, but no front office job or advisory position has been offered. Ryan pitched for the Astros from 1980-88, and his son, Reid, is the team's president of business operations, leading many to consider him a logical fit to land in Houston. Crane acknowledged to Drellich that there could be a fit down the road. Here's more on the American League's newest team…

  • Houston native Chris Young would be interested in patrolling the outfield for the Astros in 2014, he told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart: "I love Houston. I’m from Houston and play well in Houston and always have. Something about being home that’s refreshing to me. I love everything about the city and the team. They’re growing, and I feel they’re going to make some moves here soon. They have a good future. I’m open to all the possibilities."
  • Also from McTaggart, a reunion with LaTroy Hawkins doesn't appear to be in the cards for the Astros. Hawkins told McTaggart that he's received interest from multiple teams. I'd imagine that coming off a strong year and heading into his age-41 season, Hawkins would prefer to play for a contending team.
  • In a separate piece from Drellich, Crane took the "never say never" approach when asked about a potential pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, noting that the Astros were one of the three finalists for Jose Dariel Abreu and offered in the neighborhood of $60MM. Of course, that sum might not cover the posting fee for Tanaka alone, and Crane conceded that it's unlikely the team would give out a significant long-term deal with so much talent coming through the minor league system.