The answer, as Ben explained on Sunday night is no. The Yankees will not end up with Michael Young and the $48 million remaining on his contract. There is just no room, even if you like him as a player. The entire Yankees’ infield is under contract for the next three seasons, which leaves Young without a possible position. But that doesn’t mean the Yankees can’t play a role in helping him find a new home.
A reader emailed over the weekend with a question that I dismissed out of hand at first, but then reconsidered. It sounded a bit better the second time around, but there are still too many moving parts to make it work. The idea: Trade for Young, then flip Cano for a pitcher. That’s a downgrade at second base, but not an enormous one, and an upgrade on the staff. Would that work in the Yanks’ favor?
I’m inclined to say no. I don’t think they’ll find a pitcher right now who could equal Cano’s value. They’d also have to work this as a three-way trade, since they’d immediately lose leverage in trading Cano if they first acquired Young, and they’d lose leverage in acquiring Young if they traded Cano. That makes the idea a bit too complex for reality. Plus, as I said on FanGraphs yesterday, it’s probably not a good idea to trade a 27-year-old who was your best hitter the previous year.
Today another reader emailed with an interesting take. He basically wondered whether the Yanks might jump into a potential trade and act as a middle man. Young is not worth the $48 million remaining on his contract, and so money is going to have to change hands in any trade, whether that’s Texas kicking in cash or taking on a bad contract. They might be reluctant to do that, since they’d either be taking on expensive players of little use to them, or otherwise paying for Young to play elsewhere. That’s where the Yankees come in.
If the Rangers have a deal with a team, but the matter of money still persists, maybe the Yankees can jump in the middle and help cover the financial difference. Even if he’s forecasted optimistically — that is, an average of 3 WAR per season — Young is overpaid by somewhere around $15 million over the next three years. If the Yankees can use their financial might to help cover some of that difference, probably by taking a contract, maybe they can get something in return that can help the 2011 team.
Of course, this creates an incredibly complex situation. Let’s use the White Sox as an example, even though they’re not on Young’s approved trade list. And let’s say that, even though we know they’re right around their payroll limits, that they’re willing to take on Young if they can shed at least some money from their 2011 ledger. For simplicity’s sake we’ll talk Edwin Jackson. He is owed $8.35 million this year, meaning Chicago probably wants more salary relief. Would the White Sox be willing to send a player the Yanks’ way in order to help cover some more of the cash?
For another instance, let’s look at the Dodgers. With Hiroki Kuroda, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Clayton Kershaw, Jon Garland, and Vicente Padilla, they have six starting pitchers under contract. The Yankees could use one of them. If the Yankees could help facilitate an exchange of players and money between the Rangers and the Dodgers, how much is that worth to both parties? Enough to send a pitcher the Yanks way? If so, the Yanks have to consider that.
In reality, this is unlikely to work. When three teams get involved deals tend to fall apart. Further complicating matters is the Rangers’ asking price, which involves a pitcher and a major league position player. It’s tough for a team to justify that when trading for Young and his contract, and to give up even more in the name of salary relief probably renders it an unworthy option. But the Yankees’ most valuable resources is its capital. They should explore all ways they can use it to their advantage, even if it facilitates a trade between two other teams. After all, money ain’t free, and the Yanks could get something useful out of the deal.