When the New York Mets first signed Chris Young during the offseason it had all the makings of a huge mistake. The team acted early in the offseason to sign a player coming off the worst season of his career, and did so by spending more than $7 million of what turned out to be a fairly limited offseason spending budget. But then the team compounded that mistake by allowing him to spend more than four months on the roster before parting ways with a player that contributed little to the team this season, and most of the time did more harm than good.
General manager Sandy Alderson has admitted that in signing Young the team was trying to make a move early in the offseason to make a splash. This was a huge mistake by Alderson, who’s been brilliant at letting the trade market to come to him, but was unable to do so in free agency. Had Alderson waited, not only could he have avoided signing a player who clearly can’t play at the major league level anymore, but he may have been able to sign Nelson Cruz for just a bit more money than he pledged to Young.
Of course, Alderson compounded the mistake by not ditching Young earlier in the season. The Mets would be on the hook for over $7 million regardless of whether Young stayed on the roster all season or not, so there was no reason to keep him around when it was clear he was more trouble than he was worth. After hitting an abysmal .198 in May, and a slightly better .208 in June, in should have been obvious that Young was not going to have a bounce-back season, and the Mets should have let him go at that point.
Instead, the team kept him around for all of July and gave him regular at bats, even though Kirk Nieuwenhuis had out-played Young for much of the season and Matt den Dekker was crushing the ball in triple-A all month long. Both of those players are far superior to Young defensively, so even if neither player hit more than Young, they would have been a better option.
Despite having to pay Young, the Mets are now free from him and will be able to give more playing time to Nieuwenhuis and den Dekker, both of who should remain in the big leagues for the rest of the season and could factor into the team’s plans in 2015. Alderson has rectified his mistake, to a certain extent, by cutting ties with Young with more than a month and a half left in the season, which is enough time for the Mets to make a postseason push. Of course, signing Young was a mistake that Alderson should have fixed over a month ago, and by now it may be too late to matter.