Per MLBTradeRumors via Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe, the Cubs would be interested in
Michael Young if the Rangers would pay some of his salary. It seems to me that Cafardo is just speculating on this one, but it does seem plausible. The Cubs have an obvious need at 2b and Young is unhappy at the prospect of being a DH. It seems at first glance to be a perfect fit.
But is it?
The Cubs have worked hard to pare down a bloated payroll and there is a lot of money coming off the books after this season. Do they really want to use a chunk of that on a highly paid second baseman who turns 35 later this year? Don't get me wrong. I like Young's bat and he would be an offensive upgrade at 2b. Defensively, he is below average, however, and stands to get worse as he gets older.There's also the aforementioned problem of taking on salary. How much would Texas be willing to pay to make this worthwhile for the Cubs? At what point does Young's salary become compatible with the Cubs future plans?
It would be wonderful if the Cubs could make a bad salary swap with
Alfonso Soriano. But Soriano has one more year and a higher average
salary than Young. There's no way Texas wants to make that deal.
There's no benefit to them. With a set 5 man rotation, they also have
no use for Carlos Silva, except as possible insurance for Brandon Webb.
There's only one option that's realistic that could appeal to both
teams: Kosuke Fukudome. Fukudome is owed 13.5M this season and is
locked in a battle for RF with Tyler Colvin.
Here's how it could work...
is still owed 48M over 3 years. If you subtract Fukudome's contract
from that figure, you're left with a net of $34.5M. Spread out over 3
years, that's a little over $11M on average. Better, but still too
high. I would want Texas to pitch in money on top of that deal. If
they pitch in an extra $10M, then the contract averages out to $8M. At
that point, I think the Cubs should make the deal.
Here's what's in it for both teams:
Their lineup features leadoff man Julio Borbon, Josh Hamilton, and
first baseman Michael Moreland as lefties. Fukudome would give them
another lefty bat to balance the lineup. He's a player who can both DH
and rotate in the outfield. Interestingly, per Fangraphs, Fukudome
actually had higher offensive value than Young -- really the only
important thing to consider when we're talking about DHs. Their slash
lines from last season match up suprisingly well:
Perhaps surprisingly, Fukudome actually had a higher OPS -- .809 to .774
Rangers get themselves a productive player to replace young and, even
pitching in an extra $10M, they save $22.5M on the deal overall-- more
than enough to re-sign Fukudome for a couple more years if they choose.
Cubs get themselves a nice bat at a position of need for what amounts
to $8M per season. He gives the Cubs a good hitter with a solid .347
lifetime OBP and some pop that could fit nicely near the top of the
order. His defense is below average but he's not exactly replacing Gold
Glovers in Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker, so while it will hurt the
defense, the net difference will be negligible. And while Fukudome may
have the better offensive value, Young had the best over all value last
season when measured by WAR:
Fukudome: 1.5 WAR
Young: 2.7 WAR
"win" is approximately worth $4-$5M, depending on the market, so let's
call it $4.5. If Young duplicates last season's numbers, he'd actually
be worth $12M+, well over what the Cubs would be essentially paying him
under my proposed deal. Even if we use his projected value in Fangraphs
at $9.6M, the Cubs are getting themselves a small bargain -- at least
for the first year. But unless he falls off the edge of the earth, an
average of $8M over 3 years should be about right.
interesting benefit is that it reunites Young with Rudy Jaramillo, under
whom he had his most productive seasons. Lastly, it frees up RF for
Tyler Colvin, potentially giving the Cubs a needed lefty power bat in
the middle of the lineup.
Is this all likely? Probably not. But
even if it is just speculation at this point, there is some potential
for a deal here where both teams can benefit.