TODAY: Young will receive a $1MM base salary if he makes Atlanta’s Major League roster, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter). The contract also contains $750K “in easily attainable incentives.”
FEB. 13: The Braves and outfielder Eric Young Jr. have agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, tweets MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The fleet-footed Young will compete with Zoilo Almonte for a role as Jonny Gomes’ platoon partner in left field, Bowman notes. Young is represented by MVP Sports Group.
Young, 30 in May, offers blistering speed but struggled with the bat in 2014, hitting .229/.299/.311 in 316 plate appearances. Despite the low on-base percentage and limited at-bats, however, Young still managed to swipe 30 bases, and he stole 46 bags the year prior in 598 PAs. Over the life of his career, Young has batted .252/.320/.332 with 138 steals in 171 attempts (81 percent).
Left field has been Young’s primary position over the past two seasons, and it’s also his best position, per both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating. Last year, DRS valued him at +5 runs, while UZR pegged him at 8.8 in 577 innings. UZR has generally graded Young’s left field work better than DRS, pegging him at eight runs per 150 games, but DRS has given him a positive mark for three consecutive seasons. Young also has some experience at second base, and given Atlanta’s unstable situation at the keystone, it’s possible that he’ll see some time there as well over the course of the 2015 campaign.
The Mets non-tendered Young this December rather than pay him a projected $2.3MM salary (via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz), and he was one of a handful of free agents with arbitration eligiblity remaining that I identified last week. Because he has just four years, 123 days of big league service, Young can be controlled next winter via arbitration if he performs well. He is eligible for free agency following the 2016 campaign.