The Delmon Young Quandary

Teams make tough decisions every season. For the Minnesota Twins this year, nearly every player is a conundrum: From moving Joe Mauer from behind the plate to assessing Justin Morneau’s health to deciding whether Francisco Liriano is a rotation mainstay or trade bait, the Twins have had to make important decisions about several solid ballplayers.

Perhaps the most important one that’s left has to do with leftfielder Delmon Young, who was coming off a breakout 2010 but has performed far less significantly this season. At the beginning of the year, Young was expected to tag-team with Michael Cuddyer as the right handed counterparts to Morneau, Mauer and the venerable Jim Thome in a lineup that produced its best year in recent memory. Instead, every one of those players – with the exception of Cuddyer — missed significant time to injury. And now Young doesn’t look like the same player.

Last year, the now 25-year-old cut his strikeouts nearly 10% and bumped his walk rate up to an acceptable level. But this year? Well, he’s regressed to his career whiff rate and dropped below his career walk rate. While Young made strides with his batted-ball rates in 2010 — cutting his number of routine ground balls — those grounders have returned in full force this year. And now he’s mixing those worm-burners with a bevy of popups (13.7%). Needless to say, his 2.7% home-run-rate is hardly appeasing.

Young’s poor play is exacerbated by another issue that’s clouding his future: finances. Young is arbitration-eligible for the final time this offseason.

Young parlayed his 112 RBIs last season into a raise from $2.6 million to $5.375 million. Despite his current struggles, it’d seem likely he’ll be given a slight raise again. But can the Twins afford to keep Young around at a cost upwards of $6 million, despite only one productive season?

Twins’ president Dave St. Peter says the team is financially healthy — but after dealing J.J. Hardy last offseason due in part to his impending salary bump, is it that far-fetched to consider that Young could be tendered, then dealt in the offseason to save money? Perhaps not — but it might be difficult.

Friend of FanGraphs and ESPN1500 Twin Cities host, Phil Mackey, agrees. “Determining Young’s value isn’t easy,” Mackey told me during one of our recent discussions. To him, general managers are trending toward the notion that pitching and solid defense are as equally important as hitting. Because of that, Young’s value might not be that high. Mackey’s point is spot-on. It would seem unlikely that a general manager would spend big money on a corner outfielder with a career triple-slash of .290/.321/.427 and a career UZR of -41.3.

Another thing working against Young is the Twins have a few up-and-comers in the minor leagues who could push for starting jobs in 2012. Financially speaking, the Twins should easily replace Young’s 2011 production with a player who’s making a minimum salary. Ben Revere has already spent significant time atop the Twins lineup, with mixed results, but if the Denard Span trade rumors are any indication, the club thinks Revere is going to be an asset in the near future. Twenty-three-year-old outfielder Joe Benson — and to a lesser extent, Rene Tosoni — could both add interest to the situation. Benson is a more-prized prospect, but Tosoni could be an option to man a corner outfield spot until Benson and Aaron Hicks make their ways to the big club.

Ultimately, with Young’s limited trade value, it seems that the Twins will hold onto him through the offseason and see if he can regain his 2010 form. Perhaps then the team could deal him at the 2012 trading deadline. Failing that, he could garner at least Type-B compensation if he’s offered arbitration.



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In addition to Rotographs, Warne is a Minnesota Twins beat reporter for 105 The Ticket's Cold Omaha website as well as a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com


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Deezer
Guest
Deezer
4 years 10 months ago

He’s performed “much less significantly”? Does that mean “worse”?

bonestock94
Member
bonestock94
4 years 10 months ago

It means his contributions are less significant than they were last season. Somehow I figured that out without an English degree.

Bill
Guest
Bill
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t think you really understand what an English degree is.

bonestock94
Member
bonestock94
4 years 10 months ago

What Starbucks baristas have? But seriously, I probably don’t.

twinsfan
Member
twinsfan
4 years 10 months ago

I think they need to cut bait now, before he has one hot month at the end of the year and they get duped into keeping him at 6+ million.

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t even know if there’s a market for him at all.

P
Guest
P
4 years 10 months ago

Yeah. This isn’t hard: dump him.

Chuck
Guest
Chuck
4 years 10 months ago

I’d like to see him traded NOW. Clear some of his remaining 2011 salary and make it easier on yourselve in the offseason. It sounds like Cuddy is going to be back next year, and a Revere/Span/Cuddy outfield doesn’t sound too bad. With the Twins fly ball pitchers, they need all the help they can get in the outfield.

Chuck
Guest
Chuck
4 years 10 months ago

Edit ‘yourselve’ for yourself – meaning Bill Smith

kab21
Guest
kab21
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t care if they get anything for him. The main objective should be not going to arb with him this offseason. The bonus to trading him now would be shedding a little salary in 2011 although I’m guessing the Twins would pick part/all of that up also.

Be gone!

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

That’s all good and well from a non-clubhouse point of view, but baseball simply doesn’t work that way.

kab21
Guest
kab21
4 years 10 months ago

That’s your opinion. He’s not liked by the players or staff. When Delmon is finally moved it would not shock me at all if there are numerous negative comments about him.

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

No, that’s your opinion that he isn’t liked by the players or staff. I mean, unless you’re in the clubhouse on a regular basis.

The information I use is gathered from people that are in the clubhouse on a frequent basis and have a good rapport with the Twins management and front office. I am not using my opinion at all.

kab21
Guest
kab21
4 years 9 months ago

Looks like baseball does work that way.

cuck
Guest
cuck
4 years 10 months ago

Denard Span, Ben Revere, Rene Tosoni, Jason Repko, and one or both of Jason Kubel and Micheal Cuddyer will all be back next year. With Aaron Hicks, Ben Jensen, and possibly Oswaldo Arcia (if he moves to a corner outfield spot) on the way, Young is the odd man out. Span, Revere, Kubel, and Cuddyer are all better than him and that’s 4 guys for your outfield right there. Hicks could maybe beat him out and I’d say all except Repko have a higher upside.

Some ideas:

Move him to the A’s for Grant Balfour.

To the Braves for Eric O’ Flaherty or George Sherrill

To the Giants for Javier Lopez

Sean O'Neill
Guest
Sean O'Neill
4 years 10 months ago

Arcia has been playing RF all year, with the exception of when he’s DHed due to the shoulder injury he had earlier in the year.

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

Delmon Young isn’t worth Balfour.

Who is Ben Jensen?

Section 216
Guest
Section 216
4 years 10 months ago

Probably Joe Benson. Dyslexia is a bitch.

Rufio_Magillicutty
Guest
Rufio_Magillicutty
4 years 10 months ago

He’ll end up at .291/.340/.424 and have 30 RsBI in September

Robbie G.
Guest
Robbie G.
4 years 10 months ago

What is it with Minnesota pro sports team owners’ inability to recognize gross incompetence by a GM when they see it? Bill Smith, like every single GM the Minnesota Timberwolves have ever had, is just horrible. Hell, even the Vikings stupidly hitched their wagon to Brett Favre.

Delmon Young is potentially this year’s Pat Burrell/Cody Ross-type pickup, though, wouldn’t you say? Young can be very easily acquired right now and it would not be a shocker if he posted an OPS of .800+ in August and September.

Rufio_Magillicutty
Guest
Rufio_Magillicutty
4 years 10 months ago

careful with the “+” sign, you’ll confuse the hell out of people

matte
Guest
matte
4 years 9 months ago

Just because you made a bad deal (Garza) you don’t make another (sign delmon in 2012) to cover up that bad deal…that’s how GMs get fired and end up crippling a team for years to come.

Take advice from chuck Fletcher. He made a bad deal (Barker for leddy) but he cut his losses and moves on.

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