Of all the moves the Philadelphia Phillies could have made at the trading deadline, moving Michael Young was not only anticipated but expected. Short of GM Ruben Amaro, nobody seemed to believe that Young would still be a Phillie come Aug. 1.
But despite the rumors and expectations, Young is still donning red and white pinstripes, alternating between time at first and third. The reasons for Young staying really don’t make much sense, though, and it seems that the Phillies really missed an opportunity to trade him.
The 36-year-old Young was signed in the offseason for one reason and one reason only: his bat. Young, who came into the season as a career .300 hitter was supposed to provide some much-needed offense for a Phillies team that expected to contend for the NL East title in 2013. Young’s defense, however, was always suspect and that coupled with his age, made his signing just a one-year deal.
Young’s one-year deal was also considered a stopgap. While Young played for the Phillies, top third base prospect Cody Asche had a chance to play a season at the Triple-A level. The expectation was that Asche would be ready by the end of the season and that the Phillies would let Young walk in free agency.
But the timeline was sped up a bit when Asche got called up a few days prior to the trade deadline. Of course with that move, it became pretty clear Young’s days with the team were numbered. Asche was going to play every day at third base, and Young was going to be traded.
Except, it didn’t happen that way.
Young had an ace in the hole with his full no-trade clause, and he used it to steer the Phillies to the teams he wanted to go to. The Texas Rangers topped the list, but Young’s former team, who can use a middle-of-the-order bat, never really had that much interest in acquiring him. The Boston Red Sox had been rumored to be in heavy talks with the Phillies, but by the time Young had waived his no trade clause, Boston had moved in another direction.
That left the New York Yankees, who, with the expected suspension of third baseman Alex Rodriguez, were in the perfect position to make an offer for Young. And according to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, about an hour before the 4:00 p.m. deadline on July 31, Young waived his no-trade clause in favor of going to the Yankees. But at that time, Amaro reportedly told Cashman, as recounted in an interview on ESPN.com, that Young was his “best bat” and that he “didn’t want to move him.”
For a team that was spiraling downward and has continued to do such, now over 15 games back of first place in the division, it makes absolutely no sense that Amaro would work so hard to keep his so-called best bat.
And the Yankees, meanwhile, were desperate. They have cycled through third basemen this year, looking for some sort of long-term solution that has yet to be found. The free-agent market at the third base position was very sparse to begin with, and it seemed New York was growing more desperate by the moment.
The Phillies actually looked to have some sort of leverage, and according to Cashman, he presented Amaro with a list of names as well as the willingness to pay all of Young’s remaining salary.
It seemed like a win-win for all involved parties, but Amaro didn’t pull the trigger. And as it turns out, it could be the biggest mistake the team has made.
Marilee Gallagher is a baseball writer for RantSports.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17 like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.