Dmitri Young Rumors

Nationals’ Surpluses Could Lead To Trades

Nationals GM Jim Bowden signed veterans Dmitri Young and Ron Belliard to curious two-year extensions last year.  He’s now faced with a logjam at two infield positions.

Ben Goessling of the Washington Times describes the first base battle between Young and Nick Johnson, who get along well.  Johnson has more trade value, given his age.  Neither player is a lock for 150 games though.  Johnson is injury-prone, but his perennial .400 OBPs are appealing.  He and Young are both signed through ’09; Young has a vesting option for ’10.  The Yankees or Mets could be in the market for Johnson if their current options don’t work out.  Either team could then add Mark Teixeira after the season, creating another surplus.

The Nats have handed the starting shortstop job to Cristian Guzman, creating a battle for second base between Belliard and Felipe Lopez. Lopez responded with a "hell no" regarding a bench role.  Hell no to your .659 OPS and lousy defense, Felipe!  Belliard is more open to a part-time role, though he’s been outplaying Lopez.  Lopez may be the one to trade, given his impending free agencyBarry Svrluga notes that the Orioles have been scouting the Nationals this spring, perhaps with the idea of acquiring Belliard or Lopez if they trade Brian Roberts to the Cubs.  The O’s are also interested in Mark Loretta and Juan Uribe for that reason.

Nick Johnson Readying For Spring Training

There’s quite a feature in yesterday’s Washington Post regarding Nick Johnson‘s return to action. It’s one of those feel-good pieces that documents his hardships and the tenacity with which he faced them. But apparently he has no remaining physical limitations, so he’ll get his shot in Spring Training.

How is this a trade rumor? Well, he’ll be competing with Dmitri Young for the starting first base gig. Both are signed through 2009, with roughly the same salaries. But there isn’t room for both of them on the Nats roster. Each has his pitfalls, making a trade difficult.

So what do you do if you’re Jim Bowden? Johnson is the team’s second highest-paid player, and Young is just a tick behind. Do you really let one of your top five highest paid players languish on the bench? A platoon doesn’t seem the answer. Young hit righties a ton last year, to the tune of a .903 OPS, while managing a .784 mark against lefties. This trend follows through his career. Johnson tends to destroy lefties and righties equally.

It’s hard not to give Johnson every shot to win the gig. He’s younger and has incredible plate discipline. We’re talking about one of the few guys in the league who can walk more than he strikes out. He was also a monster in his latest season, 2006, hitting .290/.428/.520 in 628 plate appearances. He walked 110 times that year, which is just an insane number.

But then where does that leave Young? This will definitely be a story to follow through Spring Training.


Stark On Waiver Happenings

Jayson Stark’s column today was a goldmine of waiver-related material.  I updated my Players Who Have Cleared Waivers post with his new info.  Two thoughts from that group:

  • I was surprised to see that no one wanted a piece of Troy Glaus‘s contract, which really isn’t scary at $24MM over 2008-09 (assuming he exercises his player option).  I’m sure his no-trade clause would’ve been a pricey obstacle, but what’s the harm in making a claim?  Why would the Angels, Phillies, and Dodgers pass on him?  Maybe clubs talked to J.P. Ricciardi and decided it just wasn’t worth it.  And to be fair, Glaus hasn’t done anything since June and is dealing with plantar fasciitis.
  • I wonder if Jim Bowden was embarrassed that no one would touch Dmitri Young‘s silly new contract.

Another group Stark had was the Claimed But Withdrawn.  Here they are:

Jon Garland
Scott Hatteberg
Kei Igawa
Jacque Jones

Mike Lamb
Mark Loretta
Corey Patterson
Chad Qualls
David Riske
Richie Sexson
Miguel Tejada
Matt Thornton
Javier Vazquez
Dan Wheeler

Just one jumps out at me here.  Richie Sexson is a huge burden at $14MM next year.  And Bill Bavasi passed on the chance to unload that contract.  The guy is hitting .208/.299/.405 as a 32 year-old; his OPS has cracked .800 in only one month this year.  This is a team that can’t find playing time for Adam Jones.  What’s the logic here?  $14MM could’ve bought something nice in 2008.

Nats Close On Dmitri Young Extension

UPDATE: According to Bill Ladson of, the idea is to put Dmitri in left field next year.  Should be wild.  This might put Ryan Church‘s future in jeopardy; the Cubs have some interest.

According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Nationals are close to inking Dmitri Young to a two-year, $10MM contract extension.  That’s right around what I thought he’d ask for, and I think it’s a bad idea for Washington.

While it’s true that Young wouldn’t fetch much in trade or draft picks, locking him up for his age 34-35 seasons just isn’t wise for this team.  He’s having a career year, but can you really count on him for even an .800 OPS?  Even if he can provide league average 1B production, why lock yourself into that?

Furthermore, Nick Johnson is already tied up at $5.5MM annually through 2009.  He should be healthy next year; what then?  Do you really want one of these guys lumbering around left field?  Or a $5MM bench player?   

The justification for this deal is going to be the intangibles Young brings, and I can’t speak to that.  But from where I’m sitting it does not make sense.

Contract Extension For Dmitri Young?

Dmitri Young learned of teammate Ron Belliard‘s two-year contract extension, and now is talking about staying in Washington himself.  He’s cautious to add that there’s a ceiling on what kind of discount he will provide.

What would Young want?  It would have to be two years, already a questionable idea for Washington.  I’m guessing maybe he’d want $8-10MM?  Just doesn’t make sense for the Nats, no matter how good Young thinks he is in the clubhouse.  He’s not a reliable player; he’s a DH nobody wanted who happens to be on a hot streak. 

Even if it’s just a B-level prospect, it’s hard to see why Jim Bowden would not trade Young in the next week.

Joel Sherman’s Ten Trade Candidates

Joel Sherman of the New York Post has an article today regarding ten veterans who may be traded this month.  He’s packed the column full of insider info beyond the ten players highlighted; check it out.

  • Mark Teixeira is now more likely to be dealt than Eric Gagne.  Sherman sees the Angels as perhaps the best possibility here; they’d have to include Casey Kotchman.  I imagine Ervin Santana‘s stock is down far enough that the Rangers would not settle for the two.
  • The Indians appear to be out on Gagne but the Tigers still make sense for all parties.  Would Todd Jones graciously step down from his closer post?  Detroit’s bullpen has actually been doing well lately.
  • The Royals want a righthanded-hitting center fielder in return for Octavio Dotel.  Now that’s a tall order.  Sherman names Lastings Milledge and Carlos Gomez as two who fit the bill, but such a trade would require young talent like Zack Greinke coming back to the Mets.  Just speculating, but Melky Cabrera and Reggie Willits also fit the Royals’ need.
  • Apparently the Mariners and Braves are "very interested’ in Dmitri Young.  That’s the first I’ve heard of a team besides Atlanta inquiring.
  • Oddly, the Devil Rays appear to have some interest in Kyle Farnsworth if the money can be worked out.  They like Scott Proctor as well, so keep an eye on that Ty Wigginton rumor.  Sherman mentions that the market is heavy with available role players, so look for a lot of boring deals with that type of player.  Just kidding, trade rumors are never boring.  Sherman tosses out Tadahito Iguchi to the Padres; that’s a fresh one.
  • Sherman runs down all of the available relievers we already know about.  Throw Kiko Calero in there as a new name. 

Decision Time On Dmitri Young

The time has come for the Nationals to decide whether to trade their All-Star first baseman, Dmitri Young.  He’s arguably their best player this year, but he’s a free agent after the season and might yield a solid prospect.

Phil Wood would like to retain Young, and even sign him to a multiyear free agent contract.  He extols Young’s virtues as a "personable, productive, and solid candidate for comeback-player-of-the-year honors." 

Young’s 180 in public perception comes as quite a surprise to me.  In April of ’06 he choked a 21 year-old woman and faced a domestic violence charge.  An arrest warrant was issued in June when he failed to show up for court.  He later pleaded no contest to the charge.  Young’s had other problems as well, and I wouldn’t criticize those.  I’m glad he’s recovered.  But he still did something disgusting, far worse than anything Alex Rodriguez has ever done.  Leave him alone, let him play baseball, give him a second chance, sure.  But let’s not give the man a medal.  Save the adoration for an actual role model.  I know you may not agree, but I had to get that off my chest.

Anyway, Mark Zuckerman and Rick Snider think trading Young is a no-brainer.  The alternative would be letting him leave via free agency and taking the draft pick.  I talked to ESPN’s Keith Law to learn exactly what kind of pick the Nats should expect for Young:

"I’d say there’s a decent chance he’s a no-compensation guy, probably an equal chance he’s a B (one sandwich pick), and a slight chance he’s an A (one sandwich pick plus a pick from the signing team)."

Over the 2006-07 seasons, Young really hasn’t amassed the kind of stats that vault a player up in the Elias rankings.  The Nats wouldn’t get much if any compensation for him.  As far as published reports, only the Braves have shown interest so far.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Andruw, Lidge, Gwynn Jr.

Ken Rosenthal has a new Full Count video up at FOXSports for your viewing pleasure.

  • Rosenthal believes that despite Andruw Jones‘s lousy May and June, he’ll still cash in this winter as the best available center fielder.  He’ll still provide more offense than Torii Hunter in the long run. 
  • The Nationals are still asking for the moon in trade talks.  If Jim Bowden does start acting reasonable, Dmitri Young, Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, and Ryan Church could be dealt.  Word via Bill Ladson of is that only the Braves have inquired on Young.
  • Brad Lidge is expected to remain an Astro.  The main reason: Drayton McLane still doesn’t think  his team is out of it.  Most simulations a 2% chance or less of reaching the playoffs.  If the Astros finally do acknowledge reality, they’d prefer to trade relievers other than Lidge (ie, Dan Wheeler or Chad Qualls).
  • The Rangers and Brewers were close to a trade: Akinori Otsuka to the Brewers for Tony Gwynn Jr.  Rosenthal seemed to dislike it, but I think it made sense for the Crew.  Regardless, Bill Hall‘s injury thwarted the deal as Gwynn will be needed to man center. 
  • The new plan for the Brewers is to call up 29 year-old Grant Balfour, who’s dominated in the minors.  He endured elbow and shoulder woes before undergoing Tommy John surgery in May of ’05.  In the midst of his TJ recovery, Balfour developed the need for shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum.  This guy would be pumping gas if he’d been born a few decades earlier.  After the surgeries, the Twins cut Balfour and the Reds snagged him.  Balfour rehabbed with the Reds but never made it to the bigs; the Brewers claimed him off waivers in October of ’06.  He’s all the way back; Johnny Estrada was singing his praises back in February.

Braves Inquire On Dmitri Young

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Braves "made a run" at Nationals’ first baseman Dmitri Young.  They even scouted the Mississippi Braves.  Jim Bowden, of course, asked for too much and the Braves backed off.  Maybe Bowden asked for Matt Harrison or Brandon Jones

Rosenthal mentions the Braves and Yankees as the only contenders in need of a first baseman.  However, if you’ve seen Dmitri lumbering around in the field, you know he’s a first baseman only by default.  As a DH, he could work for the Twins or Mariners.  Or, the Mariners could just start playing Ben Broussard over Jose Vidro.