So, after a round of hazy rumor-mongering about the Phillies possibly being interested in Michael Young, and a hearty chortle from the masses who recognize the long odds of Young actually being traded (let alone for much, if anything, of value), and a bizarrely worded statement from Jon Daniels about Texas not pursuing a Michael Young trade ... well, we have this late-afternoon report from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News stating that the Rangers, according to two sources, are actually serious enough about trading Young that they have approached his camp about him possibly waiving his 10-and-5 no-trade rights:
The newest target may be the New York Yankees. The Yankees lost Rodriguez for at least part of 2013 due to offseason hip surgery and need a third baseman. In addition, they could use a potential option at shortstop to split time with Edwin Nunez if Derek Jeter isn’t ready to start the season. The Yankees also lost backup third baseman Eric Chavez to free agency; Chavez reportedly agreed to a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday.
And a little earlier in the afternoon, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan threw up a short but mysterious blog post that read as follows: "The Rangers are being very careful with what they say about Michael Young. They do not want another mess after what happened two years ago when they signed Adrian Beltre and moved Young to DH. But the Yankees are still without a third baseman after Eric Chavez signed with the Diamondbacks." Said blog post has since been taken down, which you can read into however you'd like.
The Rangers are in a strange place with Young right now, one which is further complicated by the manager's unwavering desire to play Young on a full-time basis -- which certainly didn't sound any weaker when Ron Washington spoke on the subject yesterday -- and the hands-off dynamic between the front office and the manager's office. Specifically, the front office seems to recognize that Young playing on a full-time basis next season is a dangerous, value-destroying proposition, but simultaneously wants to avoid the appearance that it's dictating how Washington should deploy his players, and also doesn't want to look like it's actively shopping Young for fear that the whole matter lands out in the open, another trade falls through, and another P.R. imbroglio transpires.
I made this point four months ago today, and I feel like it bears repeating right now: Young, as he currently stands, is not a worthless player. No, he isn't going to produce at a $16 million level, and may not even produce at half that level, but if you were to utilize him in a scheme where he netted around 300-350 (or even a few more) plate appearances, playing full-time against southpaws and part-time against right-handers and chewing up spot starts around the infield, he would very likely project as an above-replacement player in 2013 -- particularly if you assume that he's going to regress upwards just a bit towards his career mean (the "dead cat bounce," if you will), and that Young's true offensive talent level hasn't actually fallen as far as his 2012 season would have you believe.
The problem, however, is still that we still have absolutely no reason to believe that Washington will utilize Young in a way that maximizes his on-the-field value to the ballclub. He didn't do it in 2012, even after it had become abundantly clear that the Rangers were suffering for his inaction, and I don't see any reason to believe that he'll do it in 2013. And even if the status quo has somehow miraculously changed, even if Washington actualy has seen the error of his ways and is willing to downscale Young's playing time, there's an unsettling question lingering out there about how Young would respond to being "demoted," how it would play in the clubhouse, and what the overall net impact of such a move might be. So, yeah, it's not hard to get why the Rangers might want out.
I'll still be completely floored if something actually comes about here, because Young's declining value + salary + no-trade clause all amount to one massive, MASSIVE hurdle that just feels insurmountable -- but maybe, just maybe, there's a chance that this will happen. And if it actually does happen, if the face of the franchise does leave the building after 13 seasons in Texas ... well, I'll be sorry that they couldn't manage to win the big one while Michael Young was still in the building.