Young requests trade from Rangers
Ryan, Daniels say team will attempt to accommodate infielder
ARLINGTON -- Rangers infielder Michael Young has requested a trade, team officials saying that he doesn't want to play primarily as a designated hitter and the player saying it was because of irreconcilable differences with the club.General manager Jon Daniels and club president Nolan Ryan confirmed Young's trade request on Monday afternoon. They said the Rangers would try to accommodate him but in doing so, a deal would have to be in the best interests of the ballclub. "If we can accommodate him and upgrade the club, we will do that," Daniels said in a conference call. Young, who made the request a week ago, has been the Rangers' third baseman for the past two years. That changed when the Rangers signed free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre in early January. At the time, Young reluctantly agreed to switch to a new role of being the Rangers' primary designated hitter and "super-utility" infielder. The Rangers estimated that Young would get 80 percent of his at-bats at designated hitter and the rest as a position player moving around the infield. The Rangers said that after thinking about it at length, Young told them he was not comfortable with that role and was not ready to commit to being a designated hitter at this point in his career. Ryan said he and Young had a conversation over the weekend. "He doesn't view himself as a designated hitter at this point in his career," Ryan said. "At this point, he still views himself as an everyday player. I understand the way he feels. I expressed to Michael my feelings about our ballclub, the role he would play on it and the number of at-bats he would get. "I tried to assure him that from a career perspective, I didn't think it was a step down. Michael's feeling is that once you go to DH, you're going to be considered a DH. He feels that limits him as far as his career." Young disputed that, saying the prospect of being a DH was not why he asked to be traded.
"The suggestion that I've had a change of heart and asked for a trade is a manipulation of the truth," Young said Monday night. "I want to be traded because I have been manipulated and misled in this process and I'm not going to take it anymore."
He declined to go into detail but a source said Young was upset that the Rangers were still trying to trade him while publicly saying that wasn't the case.
Young, 34, made his Major League debut with the Rangers at the end of the 2000 season and has been a regular since being called up from the Minor Leagues on May 25, 2001. He was the Rangers' second baseman from 2001-03 before switching to shortstop. He was a five-time All-Star at shortstop before agreeing to switch to third base in 2009 to make room for Elvis Andrus.He has three years left on a five-year, $80 million contract that he agreed to on March 1, 2007. A trade could be difficult if the Rangers aren't willing to pick up a significant portion of his $16 million annual salary. "Our attitude is we would have to look at each opportunity that came up," Ryan said. "For me to speculate and we say we would absorb some of his salary ... I don't know what kind of deal is out there. "He is one of the premier hitters in the game. We have the position where we expect to get proper compensation. We'll just have to see what interest level there is and what opportunities we have." Young has a partial no-trade clause in his contract that specifies eight teams he would agree to be traded to at this point. The Rangers have been approached by other teams but right now are only dealing with the eight on his list. Sources said the teams are the Yankees, Twins, Astros, Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers, Rockies and the Angels. The possibility remains that Young will not be traded. He asked for a trade two years ago when the Rangers asked him to move from shortstop to third base. The Rangers were unable to find a suitable trade partner and Young eventually decided to rescind his request. He was an All-Star in 2009 and the Rangers went to the World Series in 2010 with Young as their third baseman. The Rangers' preference is still for Young to stay in Texas. "We would like to accommodate his request," Daniels said. "But we have a responsibility to the other players, the fans and ownership to put the best ballclub on the field. As we sit today, Michael's an important part of that." Ryan said he was excited by the way the ballclub was constructed this winter and the moves that the Rangers made. But all of that was contingent upon Young accepting his new role. "I was excited at the possibility of having him at DH as well as being able to give our middle infielders a rest," Ryan said. "Also if somebody sustained an injury, to have a player of his caliber filling in would be a unique situation." Young would have also played some first base, a position that he has never played before in the Major Leagues. But right now the Rangers are going into Spring Training with Mitch Moreland as their first baseman. "Our plan all along was to give Mitch Moreland an opportunity to establish himself in that role," Daniels said. "He's not being handed the job. We're going to give him the opportunity to show what we saw in the second half of last season and postseason. If he struggles to hold down the job, anything can happen. We want to give him that opportunity." If Young is traded, the Rangers could be left with a significant hole in their lineup now that most of the prominent free-agent designated hitters have signed elsewhere. "Obviously, the catalyst was signing Adrian Beltre," Daniels said. "It was a decision we made with our eyes wide open. Talking to Michael beforehand, we were happy and relieved to hear he was willing to change, but we also knew it wasn't his first choice. "My hope is this can still be repaired, but out of respect for him, we're going to try and make everybody happy and see if there is a better fit for him." The Rockies have shown significant interest in Young, but the Rangers would have to take on significant salary. The Rockies also don't have an offensive player they could give up in return that would offset the loss of Young to the Rangers' lineup. "There are a lot of ways to improve the club," Daniels said. "We're open to exploring any of them. We don't have anything set in stone." And if the right deal doesn't come along? "We're going to do what's in the best interests of the ballclub," Ryan said. "If it gets to that point, we'll have to address that. At this point, it's premature to speculate. If we're unsuccessful, we'll have to sit down with Michael and his agent and have that conversation."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.