Butting in on Mike Young


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.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • Urban

    “That’s a downgrade at second base, but not an enormous one…”

    I disagree. Ignoring that Young would throw the Yankees back on the wrong side of the age curve (Cano 28 vs. Young 34), Young away from Arlington is, to be kind, pedestrian. The difference between the two is huge.

    • Dave

      Agreed. Even conservatively viewed it’s a significant downgrade.

    • Ted Nelson

      This is a good point. Even theoretically (on paper) it is hard to make up a 4 or 5 WAR drop from Cano to Young with a starter. If that’s the best case scenario for a deal, I wouldn’t be on board with it. There were only 31 starters worth at least 4 WAR in 2010, and not all of the same ones will be worth 4 WAR in 2011. Most are not available. Some are old. Some will be free agents. And this assumes the Yankees will have a replacement level spot in their rotation: if Nova and Garcia are both 1 WAR pitchers, a 4 WAR guy is only a 3 WAR improvement.

      If you’re expecting more of a 2.5-3 WAR drop from Cano to Young (say Cano at 5.5 and Young at 2.5) it becomes a lot easier to justify a deal. That’s sort of close to best case for Young and not best case for Cano (though 5.5 would be his 2nd best season to date, so it’s also not a bad case).

      Maybe you could also get two solid pitchers in return, but that might not work for either team.

      He may be entering his prime, but we could also look back in hindsight and say that after a 6.4 WAR, MVP candidate season was the time to sell high on Cano if there was a suitable package on the table.

      • Stan the Man

        Why do Yankee fans want to keep offering up their best player in a stupid trades? Cano is by far the best player on this team and he again is heading into his prime years!

        The line of thinking of selling high on Cano never applied to Jeter when he was 26 to 30 so it shouldn’t apply to Cano either, especially since Cano gets 200+hits, bats over .300, hits over 25+ HR’s, drives in 100 runs, scores 100 runs and plays gold glove defense…you simply do not trade a player like this unless your a getting nothing but front line star players in return.

  • Ted Nelson

    Very interesting scenario, had not even thought about that. I agree with you take on the Young-Cano swap: basically, it’s very unlikely to work but under the right circumstances it could. Doesn’t just have to be a straight ML starter who is Cano level, but could also be a package that includes a starter and prospect(s). High risk though. This new idea is a lot lower risk for the Yankees.

    Another factor/moving part that I don’t see mentioned in the article is whether the Rangers want to help the Yankees. From a PR standpoint it would be a little weird to go on a Yankee-bashing spree all offseason then make a trade that helps sure up the team’s most obvious potential weakness. If the Rangers were willing to pay their payroll this season, it could make sense for them to just chip in $ if they feel they are equaling Young’s value at a lower salary through what they receive.

    I would think for it to happen Texas would have to start getting desperate to deal Young. Most of the potential destinations that get mentioned are fairly small market teams that might have a problem taking on any $, let alone so much undeserved salary at this point in the offseason. So I have to assume Texas will at least get to the point of needing to eat money. I definitely don’t see them getting a team to take on his whole salary, give them a “pitcher” of any value, AND give them a ML “position player.” I will most likely laugh at that team if they do. Phillies could give back a lot of shorter-term money in a Ibanez/Polanco and Blanton deal that could make sense for them.

    So, besides the Rangers, we arrive at the 3rd team problem you mention. You almost need a team that has an expensive pitcher that they don’t want more than Michael Young, but the Yankees do want… Or a cheap pitcher they don’t want more than Michael Young, but the Yankees want enough to effectively make him an expensive pitcher…

    For the Yankees you have to want this pitcher more than Garcia/Nova/Colon/Mitre enough to take on their salary.

    • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

      Another factor/moving part that I don’t see mentioned in the article is whether the Rangers want to help the Yankees.

      That can go both ways as well. I think though, that either team needs to do what’s best for themselves, so if it helped the other in the process, they’d still probably do it. They’ve had a 3 month “rivalry”, so I doubt it would get in between either team trying to help their own cause.

      • Ted Nelson

        Probably agree, and almost certainly agree for the Yankees. I mean one executive has basically been responding to the Rangers and calling them peasants… not really a big deal. They also have a track record of “just win baby.” The Rangers seem to have engaged in a conscious PR effort to pit themselves against the Yankees, though. Maybe sort of a main street vs. wall street effort to attract fans in what I assume is a pretty “main street” market. Randy Levine could almost call this trade “welfare” and use it to further his PR angle.

        Plus, PR aside, the Rangers would be helping the Yankees get (theoretically) better in 2011, while the Yankees would just be making it easier for the Rangers to get worse on opening day 2011 at a lower cost (they could turn around and use the $ they save to improve before the deadline of course…). If the Yankees believe Young to whoever is replacing him makes the Rangers 1 win worse and their new pitcher is 1 win better than Nova/Garcia… that’s a 2 win swing in the wild card standings (on paper). By the same token, if they have the same assumptions, the Rangers are giving away 2 wins.

        I guess there are intangible “chemistry” issues to consider when your (former) team leader is mad at the organization… Hard to say, though.

  • Chris

    I thought about flipping Cano to a team for a front line starter in a 3 way and get young but to take salary so Texas can move him? Terrible idea. Part of the advantage New York has is that they have more money than anyone else. Why would they help out a team who knocked them out of the playoffs the year before, who’s GM made fun of the team just so you could get some player in return for a bit. I say let Texas be stuck with that terrible move and money.

    • Ted Nelson

      “Part of the advantage New York has is that they have more money than anyone else. Why would they help out a team who knocked them out of the playoffs the year before”

      I think you answered your own question… They would help them if they thought it made their team better and gave them a better chance at the playoffs/in the playoffs. The Rangers made the playoffs last season, but they only won 90 games. The Yankees have a sort of 5 game head start on them in the Wild Card. This deal could conceivably make the Rangers worse and the Yankees better.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    I sure hop the Yankees trade for Young, turn around and trade him and, say $15M, to the Dodgers for Vincent Padilla.

    Shoots self in face

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      I hope too.

    • Mister Delaware

      Correction: Padilla shoots you in the face

      • fire levine

        I’d hate to be the guy on the bench sitting between tex and padilla

  • http://myspace.com/lineofscrimmage Smallz

    If there would be anyway to score Lilly at this point in the season that would be ideal. Send Young to the Dodgers, well take on the cash and Texas gets a few a minor leaguers from each team. OR if there was a possibility of flipping Cano for Hernandez (Both making 10 mil this year. Both coming off career years) and then trading for Micheal Young, I dunno if I can shoot that down. But Lilly was the guy I really wanted the Yankees to sign cause I just had a feeling they werent getting Lee.

    • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

      Ted Lilly throws 84 MPH. No thanks.

      • Mister Delaware

        ^ ^ ^ Says no thanks to facts.


        • CS Yankee

          Maybe he meant that he drives 84 MPH?

          • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

            There was a little hyperbole in there. But Lilly doesn’t have the stuff to get it done in the AL East at this point in his career. I would have considered him at the deadline as a rental, but with 3 years coming to him? Hell no.

            • Mister Delaware

              Yeah, I’m not advocating the deal, I just wanted to point out that he’s not Jamie Moyer.

              • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H


            • Ted Nelson

              I think the AL East thing is a little overdone, and certain commenters use it whenever they feel like it without explaining themselves at all. Yes, the AL East is a tough division. That does not necessarily mean that if you can’t acquire a real ace you should just look at all other pitchers equally. Or that you should assume a worse pitcher who throws harder will have more success in the AL East. Just because you throw 95 mph, does not mean you’re going to have success against the AL East, and just cause you through under 90 doesn’t mean you won’t.

              Lilly is a risk with that money coming to him till his 37 yo season, but he’s a lefty who never really threw hard. So far age isn’t really catching up to him, so he could be alright into his late-ish 30s. I would more say no than hell no.

    • Ted Nelson

      Dodgers just signed Lilly, are they really in a rush to trade him? Plus Young will make $9 mill more than Lilly this season. Plus Casey Blake had a higher WAR than Young each of the last three seasons. Plus they just signed Juan Uribe to play 2B.

      I don’t really see why the Dodgers want Young.

  • Mike HC

    Trading Cano is not a good idea under any scenario. We can fill the holes in our starting rotation over the next couple of years, and keep Cano as well. As much as people say there will never be another top pitcher to hit the market, that is just false. Just in the past couple of years, off the top of my head, CC was a free agent, Lee was traded for by three different teams and then a free agent, Grienke was traded for and Halladay was traded for. Guys have been available, and will be again. Not to mention our own top pitching prospects. No need to panic and trade Cano for any starter.

    • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

      You say don’t trade Cano for a starter, because starters become available, then list a bunch of guys who were traded for. It would take a great young pitcher for me to trade Cano, but I’d definitely consider it. If they feel that Adams is a legit starting 2B and could get a Felix/JJ in a Cano-led package, I’d certainly think about that.

      • radnom

        >because starters become available, then list a bunch of guys who were traded for

        Sure but there is a distinction there. Being ‘available’ usually means they were expensive/nearing the end of their contract and were traded for less than their overall value (which all those guys were). None of them were traded for a middle infielder just entering his prime coming off a top 5 mvp season. Which is what it would take to trade for a starter of that caliber who isn’t currently available.

        • Mister Delaware

          I’d just be against trading a superstar up-the-middle player for a superstar pitcher.

          (Felix excepted because he’s a super-duper-star and Felix is always excepted.)

        • Mike HC

          Exactly. I thought that was implicit in my comment, but apparently not.

      • Stan the Man

        Stop proposing stupid trade scenarios with Cano/King Felix, Seattle isn’t trading him now since they just could have easily offered him up in a deal last year! Cano is a stud, he is the Yanks best player by far and losing him will hurt the team’s offense which as of today is a strength. You do not trade of middle infielders who hit for power and avg and hit in the middle of the line up for the hopes that you can land a stud ace.

        If the Yanks can trade for a stud pitcher then they should only use their top prospects for that discussion and not touch their starting line up.

  • Lazlo

    This is an awful idea. Robinson has been worth 18 WAR over the past four seaons, 6.1 last season alone. Young was worth 2.7 WAR. Cano is young and trending upward, Young is older and trending downward. Placing Young at second would give NY subpar defenders at 3b, ss, and 2nd – not real good.

    If NY wants to trade for a pitcher, they have all kinds of talent in the minors. Personally I think they should not panic. See what they’ve got now, and look at the trade deadline if they have to. But unloading Cano for a pitcher who is less than a Halliday or a King Felix is a panic move.

    • CS Yankee

      Seems like since Cano went Boras, we have seen multiple trade columns regarding their most prized WAR star, haven’t we?


      • Lazlo

        Yah, it seems, but NY has dealt with Boras before and they will deal with him again. I haven’t heard any noises from the Yanks about moving Cano, and they have him for three more seasons before he is a FA.

  • CS Yankee

    Rangers messed this up big time…they will be lucky to get 50-cents on the dollar for Young now.

    Plus, Young is about to go “OPERATION: Shutdown” on Texas in a few weeks. Look for the Rockies, Cardinals or Astros to land him for a rag arm career AAA’er and about 30M$ of the balance.

    Texas wanted pop at the DH position and D with pop at 3B…they got both but clearly overlooked Youngs’ reaction again. Fail Texas management plus fail Young equates extreme bargain rack discount.

  • Mister Delaware

    Can anyone imagine how much more Young would be publicly bitching if he weren’t such an uber-professional team-first locker-room demigod?

  • radnom

    “That’s a downgrade at second base, but not an enormous one…”

    The feasibility of this trade rests on this being true, so lets assume it is for a second (although it really isn’t).

    If Young isn’t an enormous downgrade from Cano, why wouldn’t the third team just trade for Young and keep their 1/2 starter as well? This whole scenario makes no sense.

    • Rick in Boston

      Because then the team acquiring Young is stuck with having to pay Young his entire contract. I find it highly unlikely that Texas can afford to help someone out with Young’s contract without that other team giving up more talent than Young is worth.

    • Ted Nelson

      “why wouldn’t the third team just trade for Young and keep their 1/2 starter as well?”

      Because (theoretically) they can’t afford to do so financially… that’s the whole point of the article. *If* the Rangers have a team willing to give up a pitcher and position player (their reported asking price) for Young, the Rangers could save money by shipping the pitcher to the Yankees. If they preferred the outcome to both keeping Young and keeping the pitcher themselves. A lot of ifs, but a possibility.

      And I don’t know if you’re saying “half” starter or “#1/#2″ starter, but I think the theoretical scenario has the Yankees getting more of a well paid middle-to-back-end starter (or chipping in $ for a cheap middle-to-back-end starter).

      • radnom

        Sorry, but you completely misunderstood me. I was commenting on the scenario presented by the first emailer not the second.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

    Of those 6 you named, only 2 have interest to me, and those 2 aren’t coming cheap.