If this comes together, the Phillies will possess one of the most expensive infields of all-time.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers and Phillies are in “advanced talks” about a deal that would send Michael Young and cash to the Phillies for a reliever and a prospect.
The Rangers would cover more than half of the $16 million that Young is due next year in the final season of his five-year, $80 million contract. The 36-year-old Young, who has a full no-trade clause, hit .277/.312/.370 with eight homers and 67 RBI in 611 at-bats last season. He was far better in 2011, batting .338/.380/.474 with 11 homers and 106 RBI in 631 at-bats.
In return, the Rangers would likely get “a young major league reliever,” according to Grant. The guess here is that it would be Justin De Fratus, but Josh Lindblom, Michael Schwimer and Jake Diekman would also qualify. It’s hard to imagine that big right-hander Phillippe Aumont would be involved.
Young would take over as the Phillies’ third baseman, replacing free agent Placido Polanco. The infield of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Young would make a combined $62 million next year.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”