Rarely do teams within the same division swing trades during the season, but the Twins are all but officially out of the AL Central race and … well, they probably figure sending Delmon Young to the Tigers might actually make Detroit worse anyway.
Minnesota once gave up Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to get Young from Tampa Bay, but in trading him to Detroit they get left-hander Cole Nelson, who was a 10th-round pick in last year’s draft, and a player to be named later. In other words, the Twins basically just dumped Young now rather than non-tender him for nothing this offseason.
Young had a breakout 2010 season, but took several steps backward this year and finishes his three-plus seasons in Minnesota with a .324 on-base percentage and .429 slugging percentage that were underwhelming enough without factoring in his awful defense in left field.
Young is still just 25 years old and he hits left-handed pitching well enough to provide some value to the Tigers, but his numerous flaws have kept him from becoming an above-average regular, let alone the middle-of-the-order impact bat many projected from the former No. 1 overall pick. For all the talk of his supposed power potential, he’s a swing-at-everything singles hitter with horrendous baseball instincts.
It’s a low-risk move for the Tigers, but Young’s name recognition is bigger than his upside at this point and the Twins smartly realized he wasn’t worth keeping for $6-7 million in 2012. Since he joined the Twins in 2008 the only player in baseball with more plate appearances and a lower Wins Above Replacement is Yuniesky Betancourt.