More Rosenthal on the possibility of a Michael Young trade

ARLINGTON TX - OCTOBER 22: Michael Young #10 of the Texas Rangers bats against the New York Yankees in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22 2010 in Arlington Texas. The Rangers won 6-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Michael Young

Ken Rosenthal has another piece up on the ongoing Michael Young situation and the possibility of a deal...

The whole thing is worth a read, but a couple of key points I want to highlight:

The Rangers are again discussing a trade of Young to the Rockies — and according to one source, the talks have reached an advanced stage.

Other sources, however, paint a less optimistic picture of the discussions, saying the Rockies are confused by the Rangers’ "mixed messages" on Young.

* * *

The Rangers, though, might be reaching a point of no return with Young, who publicly has said he does not want to be traded, but privately has told the club he is unhappy with his reduced role, sources say.

A few years ago, the Rangers had a high-priced star whose contract management wanted to be rid of, and who let it be known that he'd like to be dealt.  We all know how that turned out.

I don't think there's any question at this point that, if someone would take Michael Young and his contract off the Rangers' hands in return for a beanpie and a bag of jalapeno Cornnuts, the Rangers jump all over that deal. 

I tweeted about this earlier with Richard Durrett, who wrote earlier today that the Rangers shouldn't trade Young because of what he means to the team.  If we were to say, hypothetically speaking, that Young had been a free agent after the 2010 season, and he informed the team that he needed 3 years, $48 million or else he was going to take his talents to South Beach (or wherever), is there anyone who would argue the Rangers should give him that?

Of course not.  Not even close to that amount.

So if you don't think he would be worth giving a 3 year, $48 million deal to if he were a free agent right now, that means it would make sense to move him and his contract, even if it means you are getting nothing in return. 

The problem is, no one is going to take the contract on.  And realistically, the Rangers, from a p.r. standpoint, have to get SOMETHING back for Young, to point to and say to the fans, "This wasn't about a salary dump, this was about getting Player X, who we really like." 

And in order to do that, the Rangers would have to subsidize a good chunk of Young's salary.

So the question becomes, how much money do you kick in before you get to the point where you aren't saving enough to make a deal worthwhile?

That's going to depend in part on how much gas you think Young has in the tank.  Young has had a sub-800 OPS in three of the last four seasons, and while you can look at his poor second half of 2010 as an aberration after a strong 2009 and first few months of 2010, you can also view it as signs of the inevitable decline of a player in his mid-30s.

And of course, as has been discussed before, Young's 10/5 rights vest in May, at which point Young can veto a trade anywhere.  Although if Young's bat does go downhill in the coming season, that may end up being irrelevant, since with the money owed to him and his limitations on defense, if Young is putting up an OPS in the 700-725 range, no one is going to touch him anyway.

Branch Rickey used to argue that you deal a player a year too early rather than a year too late, and there may be something along those lines going on here, as well.  If the organization thinks that Young isn't going to be productive at age 35 and 36, better to move him now, even if it means paying a team like Colorado $10 million to get him off the books, rather than pay $48 million to get one, or maybe two, decent seasons from him.

One other factor is that the Rangers definitely have some goodwill in the bank to play with.  Coming off of a World Series, with Tom Hicks gone, with Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg in place, the team is in a better position to absorb the p.r. hit that would be involved with paying another team to take the Face of the Franchise than they've ever been.  With Adrian Beltre just having been signed, the team can credibly say that this isn't about penny pinching, that clearly they are willing to pay the big bucks for top talent.

The more I think about this, the more I read, the more I think the organization believes that Young is a significant risk of falling off the cliff in the next year or two, and they don't want to be stuck with that dead money -- and the headaches involved in transitioning him to an even more marginal role than the one he's in now -- when that happens.

And I'm guessing there's a lack of consensus on how likely it is the cliff is looming, how steep it is going to be, and how much it is worth paying to transfer that risk elsewhere before the season starts.

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