COMMENTARY| The Cincinnati Reds may have inquired about Philadelphia Phillies' third baseman Michael Young last week, but hopefully the Reds interest in Young is not a priority. As much of a potential match as Young would be for the two-hole in the Reds' batting order between Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto, the overall fit of Young could cost the Reds more than the team would gain.
Other Teams' Interest
If the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and even Texas Rangers are in the mix for Young, the Reds' affordability of Young drops both financially and in terms of prospect price. How much of Young's $16-million base salary a trade partner is wiling to eat will go a long way in determining whether or not the Phillies will dump Young, even if the team still expects to contend in a weak NL East. The Rangers are already paying $10 million of Young's 2013 salary, so the Phillies may be willing to prioritize prospect quality than sheer cash from the Rangers for Young. That boost in prospect price might force the Reds to cough up more than just a mid-tier prospect like Neftali Soto or a rookie like Derrick Robinson to acquire Young or else require the Reds to pay more millions than they would like for his addition.
Young's Position Limitations
At 36 years old, Young is best suited for first and third base in the field but could also probably play second. The Reds already have Votto and Brandon Phillips on the right side of the infield, and the idea of replacing Todd Frazier with Young is not a good one. As of July 25, Frazier actually has a slightly higher on-base percentage this season than Young (.344 to .342) and more pop in his bat. Frazier is also better defensively, not only in terms of fielding percentage (.976 to .961) but also in terms of range and arm strength. The notion that Frazier could shift to left field -- where he has played in just 13 big-league games -- is also misguided. Adding Frazier to the left field mix just makes the position more crowded, and the likely return of injured starting left fielder Ryan Ludwick by mid-August would leave either Frazier in the lurch or the Reds stuck with Young as an expensive bench player. The Reds would be better off batting Frazier second than they would be trading for Young to do the same and take over for Frazier.
Marginal Veteran Presence
The Reds definitely benefited from the presence of Scott Rolen during the 2010 and 2012 seasons, in which the team won the NL Central, but comparing the intangible value of Rolen's veteran leadership to that of Young's would be a mistake in the case of the 2013 Reds. Rolen bridged the gap for a young team of players who largely processed through the minors together until the youthful, homegrown group gained the seasoning that would enable them to move forward on their own without Rolen or any other veteran presence in his stead.
The Reds will gain more veteran leadership through the return of Ludwick than they would through the addition of Young because Ludwick has already proven he is a key member of this Reds' team. The sooner the Reds' players approaching the prime of their careers collectively lead, the better the team will be, and there's no better time than now to test the leadership of these players. Young may have a pair of recent World Series trips under his belt, but his days as a .300 hitter with doubles power are over.
The Reds are better off if they pass on Michael Young unless the Phillies are willing to pay the Reds to take him for little prospect value in return.
Robb Hoff has worked as a freelance researcher for ESPN's production and news departments for the past five years. You can read his articles about the 2012 Reds' season here.
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- Michael Young
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