When news broke of Michael Young's trade request yesterday, several e-mailers wondered if the well-regarded infielder could provide an out-of-the-box solution for the absence of a right-handed power bat in the Phillies line-up. According to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was thinking along the same wave-length.
That said, it sounds like Amaro -- or whoever contacted the Rangers -- came to the same conclusion that we here at High Cheese relayed in our responses to the aforementioned e-mailers: ain't gonna happen.
According to Crasnick, "The trade talks failed to yield much common ground, and discussions between the clubs are no longer active."
In a second, we'll run down the likely reasons why the two clubs were unable to find much common ground. But first, here's the biggest reason why such a move might make sense (once you get past all of the hurdles we list below): Jimmy Rollins will be a free agent after this season. Young has spent most of his career as a short stop. Catch our drift? Granted, we're reaching.
Now, onto the reasons why such a trade is unlikely:
1) Young plays short, second or third. So unless the Phillies decided to trade Placido Polanco or Chase Utley, somebody would have to play right field. Young has never played the outfield. Neither has Utley. Polanco has started four games, all of them in left field, all of them when he was 29 years old. And are you really going to move one of the best defensive short stops in the game away from short?
2) Young's contracts allows him to block deals to all but eight teams. The Phillies are not one of the eight. He could easily agree to another team, but forcing him to play a position that isn't his natural one probably isn't the best way to convince him.
Let's say the Phillies think Polanco can play the outfield, that such a move might even help protect his surgically-repaired elbow. Or let's say the Phillies think Utley can play the outfield, that such a move might even help keep him fresh during the season. Or let's say that Young is agreeable to playing right. Or let's say the Phillies think they can deal Polanco. Or even that they'd do the unthinkable and trade Rollins (not that they could -- he can veto any trade due to his 10/5 rights).
3) Young is owed $48 million over the next three seasons. If the Phillies assumed all of that money, they'd be pushing the luxury tax threshold this year, and they'd have $124 million committed to 10 players next year. Did we mention Cole Hamels is in the last year of his contract and will, at the very least, be eligible for arbitration (read: a big raise) after 2011? And that the Phillies will need to find a closer (Brad Lidge is a free agent), set-up man (Ryan Madson is a free agent), and left fielder (Raul Ibanez is a free agent)?
4) Young is an All-Star caliber player. No disputing that. But his career OPS at the launching pad otherwise known as the Ballpark at Arlington is .859. His career OPS everywhere else is .733. Last year, those numbers were .871 and .679, respectively. Those splits are bigger than the ones you'll find in Augustus Gloop's pants.
5) Young will be 34 this season, 36 when his contract ends.
Did I miss any?
I fully expect the Phillies to continue to explore an upgrade, or at least a security blanket, for their right field/right-handed-bat situation. I'm not completely buying the company line that they are A-OK with things as they stand right now. In fact, I will be mildly surprised if they don't make an addition before the end of spring training. Young just doesn't seem to be a very realistic possibility.