GM expects Young to be with Rangers
Daniels: 'We're preparing for him to play third base'
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers find themselves in a difficult situation with fewer than five weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.Their most prominent player and team leader is quite unhappy about being asked to switch positions. General manager Jon Daniels is quite aware of the situation but still believes it can be resolved and Michael Young will be with the Rangers in 2009. "I still believe there is a likelihood that we can come together on this and put it behind us," Daniels said Monday morning. "We want to have further discussions with Mike and talk to him about it. We're all preparing for Michael to be an integral part of our team going forward. That's how we're preparing and that's my expectations." But Daniels is also clear about where he wants Young to play in 2009. "We're preparing for him to play third base," Daniels said. "We'll have further discussions with Michael, but we feel this is in the best interests of the club." Young, a five-time All-Star at shortstop, is adamantly opposed to the move and has asked the Rangers to trade him. Texas has had some discussions with other teams, but there is nothing imminent or close enough to lead them to believe a trade can be made. The Rangers want to move Young to third because they believe Elvis Andrus is their shortstop of the future. Young is unhappy because he felt there was no choice in the matter. "I know how it was presented to me and I felt I was never given the opportunity to keep my job," Young said. "Maybe we could work this out if it was a two-way street, but I haven't seen that yet." Andrus is considered a premium defensive shortstop even though he has yet to play above Double-A and committed 32 errors in 118 games at Frisco. There are some within the organization who feel he could use more time at Triple-A Oklahoma, but there is no doubt he is considered to be the Rangers' shortstop of the future. Texas doesn't have a third baseman of the future. Daniels said he didn't think the Rangers were being too forceful in presenting the situation to Young. "Obviously, Michael took issue with the word choice that I used, but I also wanted to put it honestly," Daniels said. "Clearly this was the direction we felt we needed to go. Rather than sugarcoat it, I thought it was the best course of action to be honest and lay it out the way we wanted it to happen. "I completely understand his sentiments, but I don't agree with the term that we're tearing his job away from him. If anything, we're asking him to take on a more prominent role. Not necessarily moving from short to third -- you can argue that either way. We're asking him not only to play third base but also help a 20-year-old shortstop who could benefit from his experience and knowledge of the game. That's a big reason why we think it will work."
Solving the problem with a trade doesn't have great appeal to the Rangers unless they can get full value in return. That doesn't appear likely at this point. The Rangers have been in a similar situation before and it did not work out well for them.Alfonso Soriano was a two-time All-Star second baseman for the Rangers in 2004-05, mainly because of his outstanding offensive production. The Rangers had concerns about his defense and felt he was better suited for the outfield. They also had Ian Kinsler or Mark DeRosa ready to take over at second base. But, instead of unilaterally moving Soriano to the outfield, they traded him to the Nationals for outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge and pitcher Armando Galarraga. Wilkerson had two unproductive injury-plagued seasons with the Rangers and moved on. The Nationals forced Soriano to switch to the outfield and he has flourished there with three more All-Star seasons, including the past two with the Cubs. There are teams looking to upgrade at shortstop and Young still commands respect around the league. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has often called Young one of his favorite players. But White Sox general manager Kenny Williams denied reports that there was talk of Young for outfielder Jermaine Dye and top pitching prospect Aaron Poreda. The White Sox need a shortstop but are planning to move second baseman Alexi Ramirez over there. The Dodgers went into the offseason looking to upgrade their infield but already have signed free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal. The Twins also need infield help but have re-signed free agent Nick Punto to play shortstop. The Red Sox have explored options instead of Julio Lugo and could use more offense in their lineup. Many teams who were looking for shortstops going into the offseason already have made a move. The Tigers addressed their shortstop need by signing Adam Everett, the Orioles signed Cesar Izturis, the Giants picked up Edgar Renteria and the Cardinals traded for Padres shortstop Khalil Greene. The Padres now need a shortstop and the Royals are investigating the possibility of adding a shortstop and moving Mike Aviles to second. The Pirates tried to move Jack Wilson earlier this offseason but were unable to work out a trade. There are also alternatives on the free-agent market, most notably Orlando Cabrera, David Eckstein and Omar Vizquel. Major League sources said Young's contract is a factor. He signed a five-year, $80 million contract extension in Spring Training 2007 that begins this season. That includes a $10 million signing bonus that is the Rangers' responsibility. With deferred compensation factored in, any club that trades for Young will be taking on a contract with a present-day value left of approximately $62 million. That's a sizable number at a time when clubs are tightening their payroll and emphasizing younger players. Young, a five-time All-Star who won a Gold Glove in 2008, turned 32 last October. The Rangers aren't worried about age and don't regret signing him to the contract. They are just hoping that he'll eventually agree to play third base, and they are hoping to get it resolved before Spring Training. But there is a sizable chasm between player and club. "I don't feel we presented it as an ultimatum or tried to run it down his throat," Daniels said. "We tried to do it softly and explain it to him. My goal was he would agree to it and buy into it. That's still possible. We're still looking for that to happen. But, obviously, he took it differently and here we are."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.