This is getting strange. No, scratch that -- it already is strange. So strange that I'm really not sure what to think anymore. Arguably the best and most well-connected baseball reporter in the business (Ken Rosenthal) is standing by his story that the Michael Young trade discussions could culminate in a Rangers-Rockies hook-up as early as Monday, but the beat writers in both Arlington and Denver are either deftly sidestepping or outright refuting the Rosenthal report. And every indication to this point suggests that if the Rangers intend to consummate this deal, they're going to have to eat an enormous chunk of Young's remaining commitment, and receive little of usable value in return.
We've already acknowledged that the enhanced long-term roster/lineup flexibility afforded by a Michael Young trade has a specific value to the Rangers, but, in turn, you're relinquishing (a) short-term depth, (b) the intangible properties that very likely do enhance his value (though to what degree is subject to debate), and (c) contract-subsidizing dollars that progressively diminish the value of a trade to the Rangers. For every extra million dollars kicked in by Texas (provided the value of the trade return doesn't improve), the deal becomes a worse idea for Texas. And if you're so inclined to believe the value-specific bits of what the beat writers are selling us (and filter out the claims that the two teams aren't even talking, which I find especially hard to believe), the Rangers are going to have to kick in $15-20 million (or more), and likely obtain Jose Lopez and/or another spare part for their troubles.
If -- and I repeat, if -- that is the eventual trade that goes down, I'm not going to be particularly fond of it. Eating nearly half of Young's remaining commitment and walking away with nothing to show for it doesn't impart a huge benefit, because depending on the set of contractual numbers you operate from and the amount of money that you predict Texas will kick in, the total savings could end up being only in the $15-20 million range; that's solid, but it also doesn't go nearly as far as it used to. And this somewhat tepid response to this prospective trade configuration comes after donning my cold, emotionless analyst mask; a large part of me feels that the Rangers would, as a whole, prefer to keep Michael Young, and not have to pay him millions of dollars to play elsewhere while receiving only junk in return.
So, why then? Why would Texas make this trade? Is this really as simple as the preceding paragraphs make it out to be? Or is there a compelling force that is pushing the Rangers to make a trade that I suspect they rather would not make if they could help it, all things being considered?
Media types, fans, and bloggers alike tend to tip-toe around the words "demand" and "trade" -- or at least strive to ensure they're not in close proximity to one another -- where Young is concerned, because it's evocative of a certain nasty four-day period during the middle of January two years ago, and because it's a good way to end up being labeled as overtly presumptious and unfair to Young, given that he vacated third base for the sake of Adrian Beltre with minimal outward fuss ... but the little signs are beginning to add up:
● "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." (Ken Rosenthal, FOXSports.com)
● "[...] the thought that Young has cooled on his new role with the Rangers in 2011 might be accurate. That's a concern for club officials, especially with the first full-squad, spring-training workout set for Feb. 20." (Jeff Wilson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
● Michael Young: "I'm still doing the exact same work because I don't consider myself a DH. I consider myself a baseball player. And everything I wanted to work on before this happened I've still been working on. This isn't something I think I'm going to be doing permanently. [...] I'm not going to let something like this get in the way of where I want to be as a player when my career ends. That's what I try to focus on. I still consider myself to be able to make a big impact on both sides of the ball." (Jon Machota, SportsDayDFW.com)
And, of course, the trade possibilities we're presently talking about. Something just doesn't feel right about this. If this ultimately ends up as an exchange of Young and $20 million for Jose Lopez, you're going to have a difficult time convincing me that Young wasn't the impetus in some form or fashion -- either by indicating that his dissatisfaction with a reduced playing-time arrangement in Texas would be a recurring thorn in the organization's side (and, one would think, abating whatever value is generated by his intangible qualities), or by coming right out and communicating to the team that he wants to play in the field every day, even if that requires being in the employ of another major league team.
I don't profess to have this all figured out (yet), but I do have to think that there is something more to this than what meets the eye.