By Joe Christensen
I didn’t hear Terry Ryan’s interview on KSTP AM-1500 yesterday, but someone wrote in our comments section that when Ryan was asked about Dmitri Young, he didn’t dismiss the possibility, saying there are about 15 hitters they are considering on the trade market.
Well, we’ve only had nine Trade Targets in this series, so we’ve got some catching up to do. A couple months ago, we had heard the Twins weren’t interested in Young because he had ”too much baggage.” But there is a growing sentiment that Young truly has turned his life around since getting released by the Tigers last season.
As Torii Hunter told KFAN’s Dan Barreiro last week, “I talked to [Young] at the All-Star Game. He’s straight, clean-cut. I think he’s ready. … I think I overheard him say he liked the Twins. I don’t know. I thought I heard that through the grapevine.”
Torii obviously was being careful because teams can get penalized for tampering if they’re openly recruiting players. Anyway, many of you have been writing Young’s name for weeks. So, let’s take a closer look:
Name: Dmitri Young, Nationals 1B
Basics: He’s 33 (and turns 34 on Oct. 11). Switch-hitter. Throws R. 6-2, 220 lbs. Born in Vicksburg, Miss. Was a high school All-American for Rio Mesa High School in California. Signed with the Cardinals as a first-round pick (No. 4 overall) from the 1991 draft.
Stats: His .340 batting average currently ranks second in the National League. He also has nine home runs, 52 RBI, a .395 on-base percentage and a .520 slugging percentage.
Salary: $500,000. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end. He’s been an absolute steal for the Nationals this year, as GM Jim Bowden, who knew Young from Cincinnati, took a chance coming off his troubled 2006 season.
Good Twin because: He’s an experienced DH. Rondell White returns to that role tonight, but he said last year that he’s a better hitter when he plays left field. Young is a career .287 hitter with 52 home runs as a DH. The Twins know him well from his years with the Tigers.
Available?: Yes. He belongs in the American League, where he can DH, so it would behoove Bowden to trade him, rather than lose him as a free agent.
Probable cost: My jaw almost hit the floor last week, when a major league insider told me what Bowden asked the Twins to give up in return for Alfonso Soriano last year. I always had heard it was Matt Garza. No, it was Matt Garza and Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker. All three. The insider told me I would be surprised to know just how much the Twins were willing to give up in that deal. We had heard they refused to give up Garza but would have parted with Slowey. Anyway, it sounds like the Twins offered two pitchers other than Garza — probably Slowey and someone else – who have pitched in the big leagues this year. Soriano never got traded. He went on to sign an eight-year, $136 million contract.
Young certainly isn’t that valuable. But you can work backward from Bowden’s asking price for Soriano and realize that he’s hardly going to give away Young. Would you trade Slowey straight up for Young? I sure wouldn’t.
Potential Batgirl nickname (*You know, if she still ran the greatest blog ever): Baseball-reference.com tells us Young’s nickname is Meat Hook. I can’t remember, but Batgirl might have had a not-so-nice nickname when he played for the Tigers. I’ll take your suggestions below.
Odds this trade happens: 15-to-1. I really do get the feeling the Twins will do something before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. As I’ve been writing, they seem more inclined to grab somebody who wouldn’t be limited to DH duty. Young would be a great jolt for their lineup, but I’m guessing Bowden’s asking price is just too high.