Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors reported the Phillies had agreed to sign free agent outfielder Delmon Young to a one-year deal, worth $750K. Although this is a very low-base salary, Ken Rosenthal tweeted that there are certain roster and performance bonuses in place that could bring the overall value of the contract to approximately $3.25 million. Young has been rehabbing all winter following ankle surgery, and said earlier in the off-season that he wanted to wait to sign until January to allow time for his injury to heal. So, with another right-handed hitting outfielder with power going off the market, should Mets fans be upset about a division rival picking up another outfielder? Absolutely not.
Although the Mets remain stagnant with regard to their current search for outfielders, I’m elated they didn’t give Delmon Young a significant look. The 27-year-old right-hander does have some pop (averages 16 homers and 89 RBI per season) and has experienced success in October (.264/.322/.538 with 8 HR and 15 RBI in 106 ABs), but in this case, the pros to sign him don’t outweigh the cons.
He’s had some recent off-the-field issues, and they were such a concern that the Phillies debated internally for weeksas to whether or not they should give Young a chance, but their need for a right-handed bat in the outfield eventually won the debate, deciding to take the risk. However, even though his recent issues would have been a concern for me if Sandy Alderson pursued Young, it’s what he can’t do on the field that makes me happy he wasn’t on New York’s radar.
He does have a decent bat that the Mets could have definitely used from the right side, but I’m shocked he ended up signing with a National League team, because that means he’ll be forced to play the field. Earlier this morning, I talked about how just the thought of Jason Kubel and Lucas Duda manning the corner outfield positions made me shiver more than this single-digit weather we’re having in New England the last few days. If it was Duda and Young in those spots, I would be just as worried.
Young has stayed pretty consistent throughout his career at the plate, as he currently owns a .284/.317/.425 career line, but the one thing he hasn’t been consistent with is being a good defender. Since he posted a .984 fielding percentage with the Twins in 2010, his fielding has gone on a sharp downward trend, as he’s watched that mark sink each year, now down to the .947 he posted in 2012. Now, he only appeared in the outfield for 31 games last year, but that’s because he was the team’s primary DH, logging 118 games in that capacity. Also, Young hasn’t saved his team any runs in the field since he posted a Rdrs/yr of 0 in 2007 with the Rays.
So, not only is he not good with the glove, but he barely played the field last year because the Tigers recognized he was a defensive liability. When I watched Young hit .353/.421/.765 against the Yankees in last year’s ALCS, I couldn’t help but notice that he’s put on a bit of weight, as he now weighs in at 240 lbs. I’m not using this as a “bad body” reference, but his increased weight combined with lack of playing time in the outfield and ankle surgery over the off-season tells me he will be losing some mobility, and at least a step or two of reaction time on batted balls. Long story short, I don’t think the Phillies will be praising his defense by this September.
I’m sure Sandy checked in on Young to do his due diligence on right-handed outfielders that had a pulse, but I’m glad that’s the furthest it got. Young comes with a lot of baggage off the field, but what he’s done on it didn’t even impress me enough to consider wanting to deal with those other issues. If the Mets are going to rely on pitching and timely hitting in 2013 to be successful, a solid outfield (defensively speaking, of course) will be of the utmost importance. Hitters like Kubel and Young are just that…hitters. I’d rather only have to deal with Duda’s defensive growing pains this season instead of doubling that just to get some offense in the lineup.