PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Michael Young’s leadership skills were as attractive to the Philadelphia Phillies as his hitting ability.
The Phillies acquired the seven-time All-Star infielder from the Texas Rangers for two relief pitchers, filling a void at third base. The deal was announced Sunday, a day after Young agreed to waive his no-trade clause.
“Michael brings a lot to our team, not just on the field, but off it as well,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He has been one of the premiere hitters in the American League for a decade and is someone who has a tremendous presence in the clubhouse. We couldn’t be happier that he has accepted the assignment to come to the Phillies.”
Young is known for being an unselfish player and a true professional – two qualities Philadelphia’s front office values in a player.
“He has all the elements we’re looking for,” Amaro said. “First of all, the makeup 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.”
The Rangers get right-hander Josh Lindblom and minor league righty Lisalverto Bonilla. The Rangers also will pay a significant portion of Young’s salary for 2013. Young is due to earn $16 million. Reports said the Phillies will pay him about $6 million.
“If there was crying in baseball, I guess I would cry,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said of losing Young. “This is a very, very tough situation. He’s always been my go-to guy in the six years I’ve been here, and he’s not only done a lot in that respect for me, but leadership that he brought to the clubhouse and the leadership that he brought on the field, and the leadership that he had in the community is something that we sorely will miss.”
Young batted .277 with eight homers and 67 RBIs in 2012, a down year for him. He hit .288 with runners in scoring position and .333 against left-handed pitchers. He made 40 starts at first base, 25 at third base, 14 at second base and four at shortstop.
“I think that’s just part of the process of being a Major League player,” Amaro said. “You don’t have a great year every year. He’s had some years where he hit .280 and others where he hit .330. But at the same time, even when his numbers aren’t extraordinary, and they were still pretty darn good last year, maybe better than anybody we had on our club, but the fact of the matter is he’s a professional hitter. He’s a guy who we know will strive to be the best player he can be. And even when he’s not having productive hits, I know he’s the kind of guy who makes productive outs. So there’s a lot of pluses to this guy.”
From 2003-11, Young hit at least .300 seven times and averaged 17 homers and 90 RBIs. A former AL Gold Glove winner at shortstop, Young hasn’t played third base regularly since 2010. Seven Phillies started at third base last year, including often-injured former All-Star Placido Polanco.
Young was originally selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 1997 amateur draft. He was traded to the Rangers on July 19, 2000 for pitcher Esteban Loaiza. Young has a .301 average with 177 home runs and 984 RBIs in 1,823 major league games — all with Texas. He is the club leader in games, at-bats (7,399), runs (1,085), hits (2,230), doubles (415), triples (55) and total bases (3,286). Young has a .248 average with 3, homers, 10 doubles and 19 RBIs in 34 postseason games.
Young began his career at second base with the Rangers. He moved to shortstop to accommodate Alfonso Soriano, who was acquired in the trade that sent Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees. Young won his only Gold Glove at shortstop in 2008 and then moved to third base to make room for Elvis Andrus in 2009. He played two seasons at third before moving to designated hitter and a utility role after Adrian Beltre arrived in Texas.
The emergence of rookie infielder Jurickson Profar meant even less opportunity for Young to play to in the field this season. Profar, who turns 20 in February, is the Rangers’ top prospect played second base and shortstop in nine games down the stretch last season and had a hit in his only at-bat in an AL wild-card loss to Baltimore.
“Both on and off the field, this guy is one of the most accomplished players in the history of the franchise and been part of the last few years where they were basically the best teams in the history of the franchise,” Rangers GM Jon Daniels said. “As we looked at it, given the makeup of our roster, some of our internal options, we felt this was the right way to go.”