Texas Rangers officials confirmed in a teleconference Monday evening that star Michael Young has requested a trade but said a deal is not imminent.
Club president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels both said that Young “changed” his mind after initially agreeing to be a designated hitter and super-utility player following the addition of third baseman Adrian Beltre. Young didn’t request the trade until a week or so ago — after the Rangers acquired Mike Napoli, who could affect his playing time at both first base and DH.
Daniels stressed that he would only trade Young if the deal also improved the team. To date, sources say the Colorado Rockies have been the most serious suitor.
The Rangers must move quickly if they wish to resolve Young’s status before full squad spring workouts begin in less than two weeks. If Young isn’t traded soon, the Rangers run the risk of a distraction affecting their clubhouse throughout spring training and into the regular season.
“It’s premature to say we’re losing him,” Daniels said. “We’d like to accommodate his request, to the extent that we can do so while helping the ballclub.”
Daniels added later: “We know what his feelings are. We know what he’d like us to do. … If we can find a solution that works for all parties involved, that’s our mindset.”
Young is coming off a season in which he batted .284 with 21 home runs and 91 RBIs and led the Rangers to the first World Series appearance in franchise history. Young is widely respected within the game, and the Rangers are perceived by some as having handled his status clumsily this winter. Sources say the Rockies have been confused by the Rangers’ “mixed messages” about Young in their conversations with the club.
The Rockies would like Young, 34, to be their second baseman, but the $48 million left on his contract over the next three seasons would make any deal complex.
Earlier this winter, the Rockies offered infielder Eric Young Jr. for Young; the Rangers nixed the idea, expressing concerns about a stress fracture that Young Jr. suffered in his leg last season. The Rockies’ latest proposal, sources say, includes infielder Jose Lopez.
Young has a limited no-trade clause, but the Rockies are among the eight teams that can acquire him without his permission. (Daniels said it would be “cleanest” if the Rangers could deal him to one of those teams.) In May, Young will gain full no-trade protection as a player with 10 years of service, five with the same team.
Lopez will earn $3.6 million next season, but his contract is not guaranteed. If the Rangers acquired him and released him in spring training, they would owe him only $600,000. But if he were the only player in the deal, they would have virtually nothing to show for Young.
The Rockies, even if they receive significant cash from Texas, probably would need to do more than simply move Lopez. They also might need to part with a higher-priced player — perhaps right-hander Aaron Cook, who will earn $9.25 million.
The Rangers and Rockies first discussed Young at the winter meetings in December. Since then, the Rockies have signed reliever Matt Lindstrom to a two-year, $6.6 million contract and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez to a seven-year, $80 million contract. Gonzalez’s deal included a $3 million signing bonus.