Young deal could lead to series of moves for Texas
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers told Michael Young early in the offseason that his playing time would likely be reduced in 2013.
At the time, Young told the Rangers he would accept that possibility, do everything in the offseason to get ready, and try to earn at-bats in Spring Training. But when the Phillies showed interest in Young as their potential third baseman, the Rangers decided that a trade might be in everybody's interest.
"The opportunity for him to play third base in Philadelphia was more than we could promise here," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "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."
Prospect acquired by Rangers
Lisalverto Bonilla, RHP: Bonilla, ranked No. 15 on the Phillies' Top 20 at the time of the trade, has been both a starter and reliever in his pro career since signing in Dec. 2008 with the Phillies. The slight right-hander had some success in the rotation in '11, but moved back into a bullpen-only role this past season and started to take off as a result. Before thumb surgery cut short his season in mid-July, Bonilla had pitched across two levels, posting a 1.55 ERA and a 12.4 K/9 rate. He was named to the All-Star Futures Game World team, but was scratched because of the thumb injury. Bonilla has the makings of three above-average offerings with his fastball, slider and changeup. He's shown an ability to generate ground-ball outs, something he was doing while making up for lost innings in the Dominican this winter. A good athlete with a clean delivery, if he stays in the bullpen, he could be ready soon.
Young, after needing a few days to consider the trade, finally agreed to it. On Sunday morning, Major League Baseball also signed off on the deal that sends Young to the Phillies for reliever Josh Lindblom and Minor League pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla. The Rangers will also pick up $10.5 million of Young's $16 million salary, and the two teams will split a $1.2 million fee being paid for him to waive his no-trade clause.
Young was expected to address the media on Sunday afternoon. A seven-time All-Star and five-time winner of the Rangers Player of the Year Award, Young departs as their all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples and total bases. He has spent his entire 13-season Major League career with the Rangers after being acquired from the Blue Jays as a Minor League infielder on July 19, 2000.
"First of all, this was a difficult decision, for myself and for [manager] Ron [Washington] and for all members of our organization, because of what Michael has meant to our organization and community, both on and off the field," Daniels said. "He is one of the most accomplished players in the history of the franchise and a big part over the past few years of the best teams in the history of the franchise."
Besides his statistical accomplishments, Young was viewed as the Rangers' unofficial team captain and undisputed leader in the clubhouse.
"This is a very tough situation," Washington said. "Michael has been a Ranger for 12 years. 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."
Lindblom, 25, was a second-round pick by the Dodgers in 2008 First-Year Player Draft and was traded to the Phillies, along with two other players, on July 31 for outfielder Shane Victorino. He was 3-5 with a 3.55 ERA in 74 combined games, allowing 7.7 hits, 4.4 walks and 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Bonilla, 22, was 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA in 21 relief appearances at Double-A Reading this past season. He allowed six hits, 4.6 walks and 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Bonilla started the year at Class A Clearwater and had a 1.35 ERA in 10 games, with 6.1 strikeouts, 2.7 walks and 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He was ranked No. 15 by MLB.com among the Phillies' top prospects and was selected to play in the Futures Game before suffering a thumb injury.
But the Phillies needed a front-line third baseman, a position that Young played regularly for the Rangers in 2009-10 before they signed Adrian Beltre. Young has spent the past two seasons at designated hitter while filling in at all four infield spots.
"Clearly, this brings a wonderful package to what we're trying to do here in Philadelphia," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said. "One, [Young is] a very, very good ballplayer. He has a tremendous track record. I know that last year was not his best year, but after talking to the scouts and discussing it intently with the rest of our front office, we felt like this is an excellent person to bring to our club.
"[Young] 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."
Trading Young to the Phillies is the first of a series of moves that the Rangers are hoping to make. But they missed out on one big goal, with pitcher Zack Greinke close to officially signing with the Dodgers. The Rangers are still looking for starting pitching and they are likely to renew their efforts to trade for the Mets' R.A. Dickey. There may be other free-agent pitchers that interest them, but Greinke was at the top of their list.
"It wasn't any secret that he was someone that we had interest in," Daniels said. "It's a pretty short list of starters that we're pursuing. We feel we have four guys [Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando] in our rotation that we like a lot, along with Colby Lewis hopefully coming back [from flexor tendon surgery] in the first half of the season, plus a couple of young guys [Martin Perez, Justin Grimm] that we like. We'd like to add to our starting depth and we'd like to acquire an impact guy. But we're not casting a wide net to add a starter at any cost."
The Rangers also continue to pursue re-signing free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton, and they remain interested in being part of a multiple-team trade involving the D-backs that could bring outfielder Justin Upton to Texas. If the Rangers can re-sign Hamilton and/or acquire Upton, it would allow them to move Nelson Cruz to designated hitter.
The Rangers have resumed business since returning from the Winter Meetings on Thursday. Daniels said he has talked to quite a few people in the past 72 hours, and Saturday was a particularly busy day.
"I expect things to start picking up," Daniels said.
With Young gone, the Rangers are also considering the possibility of moving Ian Kinsler to first base. That would allow them to go with rookie Jurickson Profar at second base.
"That's something we've talked about, but we haven't made that call yet," Daniels said. "It depends on some other moves we make. It's a possibility."
Daniels said the Rangers continue to stay in touch with Hamilton's agent, Michael Moye, although they haven't reached the "final-conversation" stage just yet.