- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Michael Young doesn't have a lot of choices in forcing a trade from the Texas Rangers, and although he spoke out loud about his unhappiness on Monday, he would have to take many more steps to push the Rangers to take action.
Young -- whose treatment of Elvis Andrus after Young's shift to third base was a lesson in professionalism -- essentially would have to flip the script and become a baseball version of Terrell Owens in training camp and make a daily show of his unhappiness. He would have to start airing dirty laundry and being direct in his criticism. Or he could refuse to report to camp and turn his situation into something of an embarrassment for the Rangers.
But keep in mind that his anger is real and seemingly aimed at general manager Jon Daniels, particularly as you read between the lines of what he said to Jayson Stark and Richard Durrett. He does have the respect of folks who make decisions within the Rangers organization, and people in power could want to bend a little to give Young what he's now asking for.
The Rangers also could just pull a pocket veto and sit back and not really pursue a deal, and instead wait for somebody to come to them with an attractive offer. The Rangers could count on Young to arrive in camp and go about his business.
But undoubtedly, many rival executives are circling the Rangers like vultures, looking for the opportunity to add a respected and productive veteran at a bargain price. As I wrote here Sunday, Young, at 34, is still viewed by rival evaluators as a dangerous hitter.
For the record, Young can veto a trade to all but eight teams -- the Yankees, the Cardinals, the Angels, the Rockies, the Padres, the Dodgers, the Twins and the Astros. Let's consider some options:
The Yankees don't have a spot for him. The Cardinals could theoretically have a spot at shortstop or second base, but remember, St. Louis already has stretched its budget and committed to Ryan Theriot and David Freese at shortstop and third base, respectively, and might be saving its nickels for any Albert Pujols discussion. The Padres have Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson locked in for their middle infield for the next two years. Houston has been in cutback mode, and any deal between the Rangers and the Astros is always complicated because of the in-state politics.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, signed out of Japan by the Twins this offseason, will play shortstop or second base. If the Twins privately thought Young was a more attractive player than Alexi Casilla, it would be worth a conversation for them. But sources say Minnesota wants to give Casilla -- a younger and much cheaper player than Young -- a real shot to play regularly. In any event, available dollars aren't plentiful this late in the offseason, so it could be very tough for the Twins to work out a trade even if they wanted to. Minnesota allowed valued relievers to walk away because of budget constraints, so the Twins' first preference probably would be for the Rangers to eat a huge portion of the $48 million owed to Young during the next three seasons.
But if Texas was willing to do that, the Rangers would want a decent prospect or two in return, and the Twins aren't usually willing to do such a thing.
The Dodgers theoretically could use Young in their infield, but with owner Frank McCourt walking the halls of Major League Baseball hoping for an audience with the commissioner because of his financial issues, they aren't exactly flush with cash.
The Rockies want Young, and would play him daily at second base. But they also want the Rangers to provide significant salary relief to pay something close to half of what Young is owed over the next three years. In other words, they want Texas to put Young on a platter for them -- and this is why the Rangers have doubts about whether they can make a deal with the Rockies.
The Angels could use Young, and at a time when owner Arte Moreno is still digging out from what has been a tough offseason, Young would be a nice fit at third base. But the Angels would have to structure a sweetheart deal for the Rangers to make this happen, either by eating most or all of the money owed to Young, or in giving up talent. For the Angels, that could make this problematic, because it's evident that Texas doesn't want to give Young away.
Oakland has been trying to upgrade at third base all winter, pursuing Adrian Beltre aggressively before losing out to the Rangers, then asking the Mariners about Chone Figgins. Young would be a tremendous addition for them. But he would have to agree to go to Oakland, and the Rangers would have to be willing to deal their de facto captain to a division rival that will challenge them for the AL West title in 2011. To make that happen, the Athletics would have to propose a deal that the Rangers clearly would win -- either because of how much money Oakland would eat in the Young contract, or because of the prospects the Athletics would give up.
On paper, the Blue Jays have a spot for Young, if the Rangers ate a lot of salary; Young could play third, and Jose Bautista could shift to right field. But not many veteran players have approved deals to Toronto.
Elsewhere, Seth Stohs addresses the question of whether the Twins should be interested in Young.
I tell all people about working in this job: You don't root for teams, but you do hope for good things to happen to individuals. And I'll be rooting like crazy this year for Conrad to bounce back because he worked so hard to get his chance in the big leagues.
• Albert Pujols went to dinner. But not with the Cardinals' ownership.
Moves, deals and decisions
The Mets hired a strength and conditioning coach, writes Dan Martin.
2. Here's more about the Vlad Guerrero negotiations from Jeff Zrebiec.
3. The Tigers agreed to terms with eight players.
• Here are the questions facing the Red Sox, writes Michael Silverman.
• Jim Tracy is feeling better.
• An Astros infielder is dealing with an injury.
• Scott Ostler takes a look at the Giants' best workout fiends.
• Terry Collins is impressed with some Mets who have shown up early.
• The Phillies have some issues pending.
• FYI, no blog on Wednesday; we'll be back at it on Thursday.
And today will be better than yesterday.
Based on the time parameters that Albert Pujols has laid down, less than two weeks remain for him and the Cardinals to come to some kind of agreement. Similarly, Michael Young is set for his own showdown with the Rangers.