Phils complete deal with Texas for Young
Veteran infielder ticketed to fill ballclub's hole at third base
PHILADELPHIA -- It wasn't easy, and it certainly wasn't quick, but the long-simmering deal that made Rangers icon Michael Young the Phillies' new third baseman finally became official on Sunday.
With that, after a cautious start to the offseason, the Phils addressed their two most pressing offseason needs within a matter of days. They had also been seeking a center fielder, and checked that off the list as the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., were wrapping up on Thursday, with the deal that brought Ben Revere from the Twins for right-handers Vance Worley and Trevor May.
Young, 36, the Rangers' all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and triples, had the right to veto any trade. However, staying in Texas would likely have meant a utility role and less playing time. With the Phillies, he'll be penciled in as the everyday third baseman. Injuries to Placido Polanco meant the team had seven different players start at least one game at the hot corner in 2012: Polanco, Kevin Frandsen, Mike Fontenot, Ty Wigginton, Pete Orr, Michael Martinez and Hector Luna.
He's a seven-time All-Star, who didn't have his best offensive season in 2012. Young played in 156 games for the Rangers last season, batting .277 with eight homers, 67 RBIs and a .682 OPS.
"Clearly, this brings a wonderful package to what we're trying to do here in Philadelphia," said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. "One, he's a very, very good ballplayer. He has a tremendous track record. He has all the elements we're looking for.
"First of all, the make-up is extraordinary. He's the ultimate team player. He knows how to play baseball. He's a winning baseball player. He's had the opportunity to be in big games in the playoffs, and he just fits real well. The fact that he hits right-handed helps balance our lineup out a little bit, as well. I just think all the elements he brings to the table for us are very, very positive.
"I think [having a down year is] just part of the process of being a Major League player. You don't have a great year every year. But at the same time, even when his numbers aren't extraordinary -- and they were still pretty darn good last year, maybe better than anybody we had on our club -- the fact of the matter is, he's a professional hitter. Even when he's not having productive hits, I know he's the kind of guy who makes productive outs. So there's a lot of pluses to this guy."
"He made an adjustment in September and bounced back some [with a .361 batting average and .897 OPS in his last 20 games]," said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. "We fully expect him to have a better offensive year than he did last year. He'll be better in Philadelphia than he was last season. The opportunity for him to play third base in Philadelphia was more than we could promise here. As the Phillies pushed for Michael and we got comfortable with the return, we presented the option to Michael and his family for them to make the decision."
The Phillies hope he can rebound, but are also trying to stabilize the third base -- while giving Cody Asche, who played last season at Double-A Reading, more time to develop.
"This is a very tough situation," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He has always been my go-to guy in my six years here. He has always done a lot for me. He has been a leader for the organization on the field, in the clubhouse and in the community. He certainly will be missed."
The Rangers received right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom and a Minor League pitcher, Lisalverto Bonilla in return. The guidelines of the trade were agreed to in Nashville, but it took days for Young to agree to waive his no-trade clause and for the Commissioner's office to approve the money involved.
The Phillies will pay $5.5 million of the $16 million Young will make in the final year of his contract next season. In addition, the teams will split the additional $1.2 million that Young negotiated to accept the trade, in part to cover the difference in state income tax between Texas and Pennsylvania.
Lindblom 25, was acquired from the Dodgers along with Ethan Martin and a player to be named, which turned out to be Stefan Jarrin, for Shane Victorino at the Trade Deadline. He spent the remainder of the season with the Phillies, going 1-3 with a 4.63 ERA in 26 appearances.
Bonilla, 22, is an intriguing player. After being converted from starter to reliever, he pitched himself onto the Phillies' radar this season. After starting the season at Class A Clearwater, he was promoted to Reading and was named to the Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star team. He was a combined 3-2 with a 1.55 ERA when he was picked for the Futures All-Star Game in Kansas City, and was ranked as the team's No. 15 prospect by MLB.com.
However, he injured his right thumb while involved in what was reported as "horseplay" the night before that game and didn't pitch again in '12. He's currently 1-4 with a 6.92 ERA in 15 games for the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League.
"Lindblom was one of the guys who was very important for us when we traded Shane Victorino," Amaro said. "I think, just by virtue of the fact that we didn't have an eighth-inning guy, we put him in a position to pitch in the eighth. He may very well do that very proficiently at some point, but he's probably not ready to do that quite yet. He's probably more comfortable in the sixth and seventh [innings]. That may be his bailiwick. That may change moving forward. But we had to put him in a position he probably, frankly, wasn't ready for. He had a tough time of it at times. But he's a very good pitcher.
"As far as Bonilla goes, he has a tremendous arm. He's still a little raw. Great [fastball-changeup] combination. He's going to be a big league pitcher, and an effective one. There's no question he's going to be an effective big league pitcher. No question. Again, we feel like that's one of the areas we're dealing from a position of strength ... so we felt like we were comfortable enough that to get this type of everyday player, this was the right thing for us."
Now, Amaro will turn his attention to addressing other needs.
"Obviously, with the hole that was created by the move with Vance Worley to get Ben, we're looking at the possibility of getting a little bit of depth there. [Tyler] Cloyd and [Jonathan] Pettibone will fight it out. Maybe Martin or somebody else will step up at some point. Or maybe even [Adam] Morgan.
"But we'll probably look to add a low-risk, high-reward type of guy or somebody who's come back from an injury or someone like that who can battle for that fifth spot. A lot of teams have had some success looking for that guy late in the season and finding that productive guy. So that's one possibility. We're still looking into the bullpen and trying add a veteran presence there, as well. And if we can do a little bit more for our outfield, we'll consider that, as well.
"We'd love to add more home runs. But for me, again, it's about production. If we can produce runs -- and I know that Ben can and I know that Michael can -- and we have to get production out of the middle of our lineup, the guys we've paid to produce those runs. If we can get complementary [contributions] from Ben and Michael and get the kind of production we expect out of Ryan [Howard] and Chase [Utley], I think we're going to be fine."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.