The Philadelphia Phillies completed a trade with the Texas Rangers on Saturday and acquired third baseman Michael Young in exchange for reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla.
The face of the Rangers for the better part of his 13-year major league career, Young leads the franchise in games played, hits, and doubles. While he was not drafted by the Rangers, Young has never played a big league game for another club. He joined Texas via trade in 2000.
Now 36, Young is in the final year of a five-year, $80 million contract that will pay him $16 million in 2013. The Phillies will be picking up only $6 million of that tab, with Texas not only paying the remaining $10 million, but also kicking in an extra $1.2 million to Young as compensation for waiving his no-trade rights. That sum accounts for the difference in state taxes in Pennsylvania versus Texas. As a 10-and-5 player, Young had the right to veto any trade. Many times in situations like these, especially when the veteran player is in the final year of his deal, the player will request a contract extension in order to agree to the trade, but Young reportedly informed the Phillies that he didn’t desire an extension.
The players going back to Texas are talented, but almost inconsequential to this trade. Philadelphia had a gaping hole at third base and a barren free agent market meant they’d have to either severely overpay in hopes of landing Kevin Youkilis or settle for someone like Jack Hannahan or Brandon Inge. Instead, they went out and filled a need with a still useful player and convinced the Rangers to pay the vast majority of the contract.
In Lindblom, Texas gets a right hander who struck out nearly a batter per inning last year, but also walked 4.4 per nine innings. He also allowed an alarmingly high number of home runs (13 in just 71 innings split between the Dodgers and Phillies). In 2011, however, Lindblom worked 29.2 big league innings and did not allow a single home run. He is a fly-ball pitcher though, so he could struggle with long balls in Texas, but he would have in Philly as well, so that’s no huge loss for Philadelphia.
Bonilla is a 22=year-old who has been ranked as high as the 12th-best prospect within the Phillies organization. In four minor league seasons since coming to the United States, Bonilla has posted a 2.50 ERA in over 280 innings. His strikeout numbers have improved as he’s gotten older as well, He struck over 12 batter per nine last season while making 31 relief appearances across two levels of the minors.
In Young, the Phillies get a professional hitter who had a terrible season in 2012 and who is most certainly on the downside of his career. While it’s true he is just one year removed from leading the American League with 213 hits and posting a .338/.380/.474 line, his power numbers have drastically fallen off in the past two years. He’s not a guy who will likely regain his elite hitting skills at this age, but he is probably better than the performance he showed last year and will likely be motivated by a change of scenery.
The Phillies filled a need and added an everyday player by trading two relief arms, one of which is a minor leaguer. I thought Ruben Amaro Jr. paid too steep a price when he traded starting pitching for Ben Revere, but he redeemed himself with this move. Even without considering the money, if Young is only average this was a good deal for the Phillies.