Young asks Rangers to explore trade
Request comes after team told shortstop to move to third base
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have made it clear that they want Michael Young to move to third base to make room for rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus.General manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington presented that scenario to Young in a meeting in December and received a strong negative response. Young made it clear Sunday night that he remains adamantly opposed to moving to third base and has asked to be traded. Daniels has had conversations with other teams, but said nothing is imminent. Daniels said he's still hoping Young will eventually agree to move to third, but it doesn't look like a strong possibility right now. "I'm moving forward with Michael being a part of the 2009 Rangers club and beyond," Daniels said. "There has been a level of interest, but nothing that makes sense that will help us win a championship. It's not on the front-burner." Young is opposed to the move because he said he was given no choice in the matter. Young said Daniels and Washington told him that he would be the Rangers' third baseman in 2009. "I haven't been extremely reluctant to any requests, I've been extremely reluctant to any demands," Young said. "I want to make that clear. I've been basically told what's in store for me if I hope to be a Ranger next year. That I'm a third baseman. "That's why I'm taking the stance I'm taking. The second they told me what they had in store for me, I gave it some thought, talked to my wife, talked to some teammates, former teammates and some prominent players around the league who I have a lot of respect for. To me, everybody has supported me in taking this stance. I haven't thought twice about it." Daniels said this is about what they feel is best for the Rangers. "To try and get where we want to be and win a championship, we want to get all our championship players on the field," Daniels said. "We feel Michael is a championship player and we feel Elvis will be one in short order." But Daniels also admitted that Young's steadfast opposition does have the Rangers concerned. "It's a factor," Daniels said. "Michael has been a big influence in our clubhouse and our community. It's our clear preference that we all get on the same page. It's something that has to be addressed. I have a lot of respect for Mike, and I realize we're asking him to make a move that he was not planning to make at this point. We realize we're asking Michael to put the team first, which he has done in the past. "But at the end of the day, we feel confident it's in the best interest of the ballclub and Michael has always done what's in the best interests of the ballclub." Young said it goes beyond that. "It's about the message being sent to my teammates," Young said. "It doesn't matter how productive you've been, how hard you've worked or how many sacrifices you've made, your job can be torn away from you.
"I've done everything I can to be a team player. I have been loyal and respectful and accountable to my teammates. But this comes down to my job as a player. It's not like moving from second to leadoff in the lineup. Shortstop is my job. I've worked hard at it. I've earned it. I don't think I've done anything to have it taken away."Young began his career with the Rangers in 2001 as a second baseman, then agreed to move to shortstop at the beginning of Spring Training in 2004 after Alex Rodriguez was traded to the New York Yankees. Since then, he has been selected to the American League All-Star team for five straight years and won his first Gold Glove in 2008. "Whether or not I won the Gold Glove, I know I'm a productive shortstop," Young said. "As far as this goes, the Gold Glove doesn't enter into it." The Rangers don't want to force Young to move. They want him to go willingly. They don't want a showdown in Spring Training similar to what happened with the Washington Nationals in 2006 when they basically forced Alfonso Soriano to move from second base to left field. But Daniels adamantly insists that it's in the best interests of the team and pointed out that a number of outstanding players have switched positions in their careers, including Cal Ripken Jr., Craig Biggio and Robin Yount. "You've had a lot of prominent players who have been asked to do something that's in the best interests of the club, and it's worked out well." Daniels said. Said Young, referring to his move to shortstop in 2004: "I've done that, too, for my team." Young is going into the first season of a five-year, $80 million contract extension that he agreed to in Spring Training 2007. But the possibility of Andrus taking over at shortstop has been strong ever since he was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on July 31, 2007, as one of five players in return for first baseman Mark Teixeira and pitcher Ron Mahay. He was one of the key players in the trade because of his outstanding defense. But at the time, Andrus was 18 years old and considered years away from the Major Leagues. That gap is closing quickly. Andrus spent all of 2008 at Double-A Frisco, hitting .295 with 82 runs scored and 54 stolen bases. He also committed 32 errors at shortstop, but has always been considered one of the best defensive players at each Minor League level. "Elvis brings several things," Daniels said. "He's going to be a premium defensive shortstop. I know he has high error totals in the Minors, but a lot of shortstops did. He has aptitude and maturity beyond his age. He can handle the bat. I don't know how much power he'll have, but he can steal bases and do the little things. "If we had [All-Star third baseman] Evan Longoria at Triple-A, we wouldn't be asking Michael to do this. But we don't have one. We have a premium shortstop." There was still some consideration about giving Andrus one season at Triple-A before asking Young to make the move. But the Rangers feel he's close to being ready and don't have any other any alternatives at third base. It's a weak free-agent market at that position, and the Rangers are clearly reluctant to go with Travis Metcalf. "Everybody knows how I feel about Michael," manager Ron Washington said. "I'm sure it was a shock to him, but he's a professional. He needs time to think about it, but Elvis may be coming faster than we expected. I've always said that he's one of the best I've ever seen at catching anything he can get to. Being the athlete that he is, I'm sure he can make any adjustment that he wants to." Young was asked if he might feel differently about the position switch if he felt he had a choice in the matter. "That's difficult to say, but it wasn't presented that way," Young said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.