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Michael Young Rumors
While multiple reports yesterday raised the possibility of the Athletics trading Josh Donaldson this offseason, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) spoke with an A’s official who completely dismissed the notion, bluntly stating, “That would be stupid.” Of course, one such comment doesn’t completely rule out the possibility, but it does seem unlikely that the A’s are feeling too much pressure to move their All-Star third baseman, as he’s just hitting arbitration for the first time.
In other Oakland and AL West news…
- Athletics GM Billy Beane doesn’t regret pulling the trigger on the trade that sent Yoenis Cespedes to Boston in exchange for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, he told reporters, including Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com. “Simply put, if we don’t have Jon Lester, I don’t think we make the playoffs,” Beane said. First baseman Brandon Moss also spoke, noting that he doesn’t think there was any way for the A’s to catch the Angels based on their torrid second-half run.
- The A’s could potentially have a strong pitching staff fronted by Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir in 2015, writes John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group, but they’re left with question marks surrounding that strength. The team has no middle infield to speak of, and the free agent market doesn’t offer much in the way of impact options. Meanwhile, a large portion of the roster — including Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Brandon Moss, Stephen Vogt, John Jaso, Derek Norris, Craig Gentry and Sean Doolittle — is marred by injury concerns. Building a team that can contend in 2015 is a long shot, in Hickey’s estimation.
- Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News has some more details on Michael Young‘s upcoming role in the Rangers‘ front office. Young and the Rangers are finalizing a deal that will make him a special assistant to GM Jon Daniels — a role that the Rangers are also discussing with Darren Oliver. However, while many former players that land special assistant roles are loosely affiliated with the club and have a light workload, Grant reports that these roles would be far more significant. The Rangers feel they’ve lacked insight into the psychology of modern players when making recent decisions, and the presence of Young and Oliver could help to provide that insight. The roles will also involve field work and player evaluation at times.
- Rangers lefty Matt Harrison has pushed back the beginning of his offseason throwing sessions from November to January, reports Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com. Harrison called the move precautionary, noting somewhat ominously, “I got only one shot at this. I just have to make sure it’s right.” The talented southpaw, who is entering the third year of a five-year, $55MM extension, is attempting to work his way back from his third back surgery in a span of two years.
- Perhaps the Mariners‘ biggest weakness was the lack of a productive DH this season, writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. That flaw, he opines, should be remedied with a hard pursuit of Victor Martinez. Though he’s 36, will cost a draft pick and is sure to be expensive, Stone points out that the time for exhibiting patience is waning, as Felix Hernandez and especially Robinson Cano move closer to the end of their primes. He also points out that Martinez “reveres” manager Lloyd McClendon, who was his hitting coach with the Tigers prior to becoming Seattle’s manager.
Former Rangers cornerstone Michael Young has joined the team’s front office, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link), although Heyman does not include specifics on Young’s role with the club. While he was once speculated as a candidate to fill the team’s managerial vacancy, he’s now helping with the search, Heyman adds.
More from the AL West…
- Rival executives don’t expect Athletics GM Billy Beane to stand pat following the team’s late collapse and elimination in last night’s one-game playoff, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. One executive speculated that Jeff Samardzija could be an offseason trade candidate, while a second threw out the possibility of trading Josh Donaldson. While I can personally envision the Samardzija scenario — he’s a free agent after 2015 and could $10MM+ via arbitration — the Donaldson suggestion is tough to picture. As Rosenthal notes, he’s arb-eligible for the first time this offseason and controlled through 2018, so there’s no reason to think Oakland would feel pressure to trade him.
- Among the players whom the A’s could potentially lose to free agency is Jed Lowrie, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke with Lowrie about the situation (All Twitter links). Slusser notes that Lowrie is one of the few players who was honest about his free agency by admitting that money will be a driving factor behind his decision. Lowrie adds that he’s looking for a good fit for him and his family, and he says he’s be willing to play second base on a full-time basis. Asked about the possibility of receiving a qualifying offer, Lowrie said he’d have to give consideration to accepting. A qualifying offer to Lowrie seems unlikely, in my view.
- MLB.com’s Richard Justice calls the Astros‘ hiring of A.J. Hinch a bold move and revisits former Diamondbacks/Padres GM Josh Byrnes’ decision to give Hinch his first managerial gig back in 2009. The move was controversial, to say the least, as Byrnes had to dismiss the popular Bob Melvin to bring the 34-year-old Hinch into the picture. Hinch had never coached or managed, but as Byrnes explains to Justice, Hinch brings a number of desirable qualities to the table.
- Justice’s colleague, Brian McTaggart, writes that Astros players appear to be on board with the move. Chad Qualls spoke highly of Hinch, who was his manager with the D’Backs in 2010, and Gregorio Petit called him “a real honest guy” after getting to know him a bit while in the Padres organization. Dallas Keuchel is excited after meeting Hinch and hinted that there were communication problems not only between previous manager Bo Porter and the front office, but also between Porter and the players. “I think we need to have better communication than we’ve had in the past couple of years,” said Keuchel.
Former Rangers manager Ron Washington stated in a live press conference that he had an extra-marital relationship, which was the basis for his decision to leave his post. He also said that he intends to return to the game at some point in the future, though no specific timeline was given.
Here’s more on the Rangers…
- As Texas looks for its new skipper, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that there’s some mutual interest between the team and former cornerstone Michael Young. Sources tell Rosenthal that any past issues between Young and general manager Jon Daniels have been settled. Young, of course, had a tumultuous end to his time with the Rangers and at one point requested a trade, going on the record stating that he had “been misled and manipulated” and was “sick of it.”
- Daniels told reporters, including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, that he expects the managerial search to pick up steam the week after the regular season’s conclusion. The Texas GM said that he is considering a wide variety of candidates, including one “just off the field” candidate, which could of course be Young. However, Grant notes that Young may not be ready to jump back into the game. Young turned down multiple offers that would’ve paid him more than $4MM to play in 2014 to be close to his family, Grant writes. Grant also speculates that 39-year-old Gabe Kapler could surface as a candidate, though Kapler declined to comment when reached by Grant last week.
- The Rangers will have scouts on hand to watch Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas‘ showcase this Sunday in the Dominican Republic, reports Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com. As he notes, the Rangers could be in need of a replacement for Alex Rios if his $13MM club option is not exercised. The Rangers do appear set with their other two outfield spots, however, with Leonys Martin under team control through 2018 and Shin-Soo Choo under contract through the 2020 season.
Seven-time All-Star Michael Young will retire rather than sign with a new team this offseason, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The 37-year-old Young had three "good offers," according to Rosenthal, including one from the Dodgers — the last team he played for in his Major League career. Ultimately, Young chose to spend time with his family rather than pursue a 15th Major League season.
Young split the 2013 season between the Phillies and Dodgers after being sent to Philadelphia by the Rangers in an offseason trade last year. That marked the only season of his illustrious career in which he did not don a Texas Rangers uniform. Though his production waned in his final two big league seasons, Young still posted a .249/.335/.395 batting line in 2013, which was slightly above average, as evidenced by his 102 OPS+ and 102 wRC+.
Young will retire with a career batting average of exactly .300 to go along with a .346 on-base percentage and .441 slugging percentage. He mashed 185 homers in his career, scored 1137 runs, drove in 1030 runs and swiped 90 bags in 120 tries. He has more than 3800 career innings at shortstop, second base and third base and also added 884 innings at first base as well. In addition to his versatility, Young brought nearly unparalleled durability to the table. From 2002-13, Young averaged 155 games per season, and though he missed nearly 30 games in 2009, he never landed on the disabled list.
The Rangers got their hands on Young in one of the more lopsided trades of the past 15 years, as they sent Esteban Loaiza to the Blue Jays to land him in a three-player deal. Loaiza went on to post a 4.96 ERA for Toronto over the next two-and-a-half seasons, while Young became a fixture in the Rangers lineup for more than a decade.
In addition to his seven All-Star selections, Young garnered American League MVP votes in five seasons, finishing as high as eighth on two different occasions. Young earned just under $91MM over the course of his career, according to Baseball-Reference. MLBTR wishes him the best of luck and happiness in his post-baseball life.
Even after the addition of Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees' rotation is third-best in the AL East, behind the Rays and Red Sox, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Yankees' rotation lacks depth, Lauber writes, while the Rays have David Price (at least for now) and a strong collection of young pitchers, and the Red Sox have plenty of solid starters to back up Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Eight teams, including the Rockies, Orioles, Mariners, Yankees and Dodgers, have interest in Ervin Santana, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish writes. (Earlier today, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik seemed to imply the Mariners would not be heavily involved on Santana.) Other teams could enter the picture as well. The Cubs also asked about Santana, but draft-pick forfeiture is a problem for them, even though their first pick is protected.
- The White Sox will meet with pitchers Texas high school pitcher Tyler Kolek, Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, and and California high school shortstop Jacob Gatewood as they prepare to pick third overall in the June draft, MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes. White Sox amateur scouting director Doug Laumann says, unsurprisingly, that he does not expect Carlos Rodon to fall to the White Sox at No. 3. They've already met with Rodon, East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman and NC State shortstop Trea Turner.
- In the abstract, it might seem like the Phillies should rebuild from the ground up, but their situation is actually more complex than that, Brad Johnson of FanGraphs writes. Rebuilding efforts can fail, and memories of a streak of mostly poor play from 1987 through 2000 linger in the minds of Phillies fans, who Johnson says aren't a patient bunch. And even if the Phillies sold some of their big contracts, they would still have plenty of payroll obligations. Given the situation they've gotten themselves into, Johnson argues, simply trying not to lose too much might be the best strategy for them this year.
- Michael Young hasn't decided whether he will play in 2014, but if he does, it will be for the Dodgers, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets. A report earlier this month indicated that Young was thinking about retiring.
Here are a few notes from Rangers Fan Fest, which is taking place today in Arlington.
- The Rangers aren't likely to sign Michael Young, GM Jon Daniels says (via ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett on Twitter). Instead, the Rangers will turn to internal options to find another bench infielder to pair with Adam Rosales.
- The Rangers are looking for pitching depth, Durrett writes. "I mean guys that can help our big-league club," GM Jon Daniels says. "We would have been looking for that this time of year anyways before Derek (Holland) got hurt but that changes things a little bit."
- Daniels also notes that he thinks the free-agent market is "coming out of a dead period" with recent signings of Grant Balfour, Eric O'Flaherty and Grady Sizemore.
- Mitch Moreland will be the Rangers' main designated hitter, Durrett tweets. The team will also occasionally start other players at the position. Moreland has been mentioned this offseason as a potential trade target for teams like the Brewers and Pirates who are in need of a first baseman, but the Rangers have also reportedly told Brewers GM Doug Melvin that they won't deal Moreland. Given that they have him penciled in at a starting position, that makes sense.
A source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo that the Astros haven't discussed a long-term extension with Jason Castro yet. The 26-year-old appears to be a candidate for a long-term deal after a 2013 breakout campaign that saw him slug 18 home runs and generate 4.3 fWAR, tops among AL catchers not named Joe Mauer. However, he's now eligible for arbitration, and could become expensive quickly if he's not interested in an extension. As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal observed recently, teams appear increasingly willing to trade players who resist being locked up. Here's more from baseball's Western divisions:
- Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times notes the Dodgers' need for a utility infielder and wonders if they'll try to bring back Michael Young, who hit .314 for the club in 53 plate appearances last year after being acquired from the Phillies. GM Ned Colletti says the Dodgers have maintained contact with Young, who's reportedly considering retirement.
- Cotillo hears (via Twitter) that the Mariners and the Indians are the frontrunners among the five to seven clubs interested in Scott Baker.
- Also from Cotillo's Twitter, the Rangers plan to use lefty Rafael Perez, who they've inked to a minor-league deal, out of the bullpen. Perez, who didn't appear in the majors in 2013, was a starter for much of his early career in the minors. The Rangers were known to be on the hunt for a left-handed arm for their rotation following Derek Holland's recent injury.
Here's the latest out of the National League:
- Even as they continue to work out contracts with key pitchers Homer Bailey and Aroldis Chapman, the Reds are keeping an eye on the free agent market, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. GM Walt Jocketty says he is looking for an extra outfielder and infielder, indicating that he'd like to have a player at Triple-A that can handle shortstop in the event of an injury to Zack Cozart. "We're still looking at a couple of guys," said Jocketty. "I don't think there's been any progress, especially this week. Once a lot of the agents get through the arbitration process this week, we'll have more time to pursue any last minute invites for Spring Training that create more competition."
- The Cardinals have improved in several areas without sacrificing prospects or draft picks while the rest of the division largely stood pat in terms of acquisitions, says Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but that does not mean the club has only smooth sailing ahead. While the organization dealt with injuries impressively last year, it is no sure thing to do so again, and players like Peter Bourjos and Allen Craig have some injury baggage. Whether the team can get a repeat performance from Matt Carpenter, and get production from an all-new middle infield (Jhonny Peralta, Kolten Wong, and Mark Ellis) are also all open questions.
- After signing all but one arbitration player (Andrew Cashner), the Padres' payroll looks likely to end up at around $87MM by Opening Day, writes Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego. That would constitute a delivery on owner Ron Fowler's promise of a payroll increase of over 20%, says Lin, who opines that the team could still look to extend Cashner and add a southpaw to the pen.
- As noted in an earlier post, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick says the Dodgers should prioritize an extension of Hanley Ramirez over the signing of Masahiro Tanaka. Meanwhile, reports Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com, the team has continued to talk with Michael Young about a return for the trade deadline acquisition.
Michael Young is "strongly considering" retiring after 14 Major League seasons, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Young wants to spend more time with his wife and three sons, and is considering walking away from the game despite continued interest in his services. Rosenthal reports that four teams are interested in Young and the veteran infielder had received "decent offers."
Young, who turned 37 in October, hit .279/.335/.395 in 565 PA with the Phillies and Dodgers last season. He began the season as Philadelphia's everyday third baseman but was reduced to a part-time role after he was traded to the Dodgers at the end of August. The Dodgers considered bringing Young back as their third baseman for 2014 but the club instead re-signed Juan Uribe to fill that position.
Besides the Dodgers, Rosenthal reported in December that the Brewers, Rockies and Nationals were all interested in Young this offseason, though the Nats' interest had dried up. Milwaukee, of note, was looking at Young as a first baseman rather than at the hot corner. The Yankees were also connected to Young as a possible option in the wake of Alex Rodriguez's suspension.
The issue for Young could be playing time, as Troy Renck of the Denver Post noted that Young's desire for a starting job could have impeded a deal with the Rockies, who wanted him for a bench role. Of his known suitors, it would seem the Yankees and Brewers could've offered the most potential playing time given how shallow those teams are at third and first, respectively, but Young still would've likely ended up in a platoon.
The fallout over Alex Rodriguez's suspension for the entire 2014 season is still settling over both the Bronx and the entire baseball world. Here's the latest on both A-Rod and other Yankee-related topics…
- The Yankees will "most likely" not sign another infielder to a Major League contract, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). As Rosenthal notes, that would take the Yankees out of the running for Stephen Drew and Michael Young. Drew might've been a long shot anyway given Scott Boras' salary demands and the fact that Drew is a natural shortstop, though Young and Mark Reynolds were reportedly both on the Yankees' radar. Reynolds, however, has already rejected a minor league offer from the club and only wants a Major League deal.
- The 162-game suspension will reduce Rodriguez's salary to just under $2.87MM for 2014, though Forbes Magazine's Maury Brown notes that the Yankees will pay A-Rod $3MM on Wednesday in the last instalment of his original $10MM signing bonus. Brown's piece also looks at several other facets of Rodriguez's suspension, including possible implications for the MLBPA and future PED testing rules.
- Rodriguez's suspension gives the Yankees millions in salary relief, a situation that The Denver Post's Troy Renck and FOX Sports' Gabe Kapler both see as a sign that MLB needs to do more to penalize teams who have players suspended for PED violations. Renck suggests that wins could be removed from a team's record, while Kapler suggests that a team should pay a suspended player his full salary, but the player would then have to donate his salary while under suspension to an MLB-approved charity.
- "The hard reality is that no matter what you think of A-Rod, the Yankees brought this situation upon themselves, purely out of greed," ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews writes, noting that Rodriguez's contract was negotiated by Yankees upper management above GM Brian Cashman's objections. Matthews suggests that the club could just release Rodriguez and pay the remaining $61MM on his contract just to avoid the distractions if A-Rod shows up at Spring Training as planned.
- From earlier today, the Yankees agreed to sign infielder Scott Sizemore to a minor league deal.