Just when I was on the verge of asking someone to wake me when this humdrum baseball offseason was over, five-time All-Star Michael Young demands a trade. Yes! Something new to speculate on that doesn't involve "Manny Being Manny" or "is Peavy going to the Cubs this time?"
As a life-long Tigers fan, this also perks my interest. Yes, I know, due to some bad contracts, we're not really major players in the free-agent market. I will admit I'm as excited as any other male that we signed Misty May-Treanor's husband in hopes of seeing her in the players' wives section of Comerica Park, but I refuse to accept that as the highlight of our offseason.
Young is owed $16 million a year until 2013. That contract, combined with his decline in offensive production, makes him a tough pill to swallow for most teams. Given that information, we can eliminate most small-market and tight-budgeted teams in creating a list of suitors.
The shortstop-starved teams that could possibly afford this trade appear to be Seattle, Baltimore, San Diego, Minnesota, Toronto, and Detroit.
Sadly enough for Seattle and Baltimore, Young is in control of his destination and would probably veto any trade to those towns. San Diego is in the process of cutting payroll, so adding $80 million over the next five years wouldn't make much sense. That leaves Minnesota, Toronto, and the Tigers as the three top contenders. How does Detroit steal the deal from a division rival and the neighbor to the north?
Texas has hinted that if they were to trade Young, they would want a third baseman in return. Also knowing the Rangers previous discussions, they'd likely want pitching included in the deal.
The Twins do have young, MLB-ready pitching to dangle in front of GM Jon Daniels. What they don't have is an improvement over Travis Metcalf, whom the Rangers would have penciled in at third base if Young were gone. As for the Blue Jays, the desire to have an All-Star shortstop doesn't just make one appear. They do not have to goods to match up with Daniels' needs.
Who does have the supply to meet the Rangers' demand? Detroit just might be the best suitor. First, they have three third basemen that the Rangers could choose from. Hey, take your pick from the sure-handed Brandon Inge, Team USA's Mike Hessman, or Jeff Larish, whom Seattle wanted in a deal for J.J. Putz earlier this offseason. All three are MLB-ready and would likely be an upgrade to Metcalf.
Next, it's time to unload some pitching contracts. With the mention of unloading contracts, two names should come to mind: Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson. Does Texas want to take on the project that Willis has come to be, or maybe take on the steadiness of Robertson? I'll let them decide, as either would help get this deal done for both sides.
At this time, you may be thinking, "How does this help Detroit?" It does in a few ways. First, it's a better return on investment. Let's assume the trade being made is Young for Larish and Willis, as these are the players with the most potential.
In 2009, these two are set to make over $10 million. In 2010, their salaries would go up to over $12 million. Also in 2010, Placido Polanco is off the books at over $4 million. We can afford the $6 million this upcoming season and save a little cash by shifting Young back to second in 2010. (He has agreed to switch to second base for another team, just not third.)
The likeliness of any deal happening is not very high. Plus, Detroit would have to get creative with the budget from 2011-2013. That's fine, I'd still like to see the deal done. Young is a fan favorite down in Arlington and a true leader.
He would do well next to Inge and Polanco/Cale Iorg. He'd do even better behind a trio of Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Jeremy Bonderman compared to what he would behind Kevin Millwood, Matt Harrison and Eric Hurley.
Dave Dombrowski, it's time to heat this hot stove back up. Get on the horn, drop Daniels a line, and let him know we're a legitimate trade partner. Misty May can sell only so many tickets; recreate a quality product on the field to sell the rest.