UPDATE: The deal is done, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Young, the Rangers’ all-time leader in hits and games played, has been traded to the Phillies.
Nightengale hears that Young agreed to the deal after receiving $1.2 million in benefits from the Rangers and a full no-trade clause from the Phillies. The Rangers agreed to pay about $10 million of Young’s $16 million salary for 2013, so it’s a relatively low-risk gamble for Philadelphia. Still, that’s a pretty old infield.
1:20 PM: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that Young has “indicated a willingness” to accept a trade to the Phillies. However, the deal is not finalized because some of the financial aspects still need to be worked out.
Young is expected to get some form of compensation for waiving his full no-trade clause while MLB must approve the salary (more than $10 million, says Grant), being covered by the Rangers. But it sounds pretty close to being done. Grant hears that the Phillies will send reliever Josh Lindblom and prospect right-hander Lisalverto Bonilla to Texas.
10:28 AM: Michael Young has been taking his time to decide whether to waive his no-trade clause and accept a trade to the Phillies. But it appears that he has come to a decision.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com was told by industry sources that Young is expected to OK the deal and that the trade could go down as soon as today. The 36-year-old was expected to have a diminished role with the Rangers in 2013, so it makes for a pretty easy baseball decision, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports hears that the biggest consideration was his family.
Young batted .277/.312/.370 with eight home runs, 67 RBI and a career-low .682 OPS this past season and is expected to take over as the Phillies’ starting third baseman in 2013. The Rangers will reportedly cover at least half of Young’s remaining $16 million salary, as well as receive a reliever and prospect in return.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.