As was reported first by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury on Twitter, Delmon Young has been activated by the Phillies and will join them for their series opener tonight in Cleveland. With the Phillies able to utilize the designated hitter in the American League ballpark, expect to see Young in the lineup tonight. In a corresponding move, Ezequiel Carrera – he of the .077 average – has been designated for assignment.
The Inquirer’s Matt Gelb tweeted that Young’s activation awards him a $250,000 roster bonus. In addition to the $750,000 he signed for, Young’s contract is heavily incentivized with roster, performance and award bonuses. According to Cot’s Contracts, Young can earn up to an additional $400,000 in roster bonuses if he sticks on the active roster for 160 days. He can earn up to $1.5MM in performance bonuses depending on the number of at-bats he gets and up to $600,000 depending on how he fares over the course of six weigh-ins. All told, Young’s final price tag could rise to $3.5MM if everything goes perfectly. He made $6.75MM with the Tigers last year.
Young won the ALCS MVP last season with Detroit, hitting .353 with two home runs and six RBIs in a sweep over the Yankees. He is a former No. 1 overall pick. These seem like alluring reasons to give him an every day job and slot him behind Ryan Howard, but as our Eric Seidman touched on this morning, Young comes with no guarantee. He is at best, shaky in the field and with zero patience, an out machine at the plate. The Phillies futility in the walk department is breaking records in 2013. Young won’t help.
With that said, he can be useful to the Phillies struggling offense if deployed correctly by Charlie Manuel (granted, a big if). At the least, Young represents an upgrade in a power-starved lineup over lame duck Carrera, who the Phillies snagged off waivers in early April. Young gives Manuel another option and increased flexibility. The question is, will it be at the expense of John Mayberry Jr., who is sporting an impressive .800 OPS thus far playing nearly every day? Hopefully not. Through 63 at bats, Mayberry has earned the right to stay on the field. Domonic Brown? I hope the Phillies have learned their lesson there, and Brown is sure to play against right handers regardless. Ben Revere? Unlikely, because of his defense and because of what they gave up for him (though if his OPS stays under .500, anything is possible).
So where should Young fit in?
The struggles of this team against left handers are well documented. Young can help there (.824 OPS against LHP versus .708 against RHP). Against tough lefties, perhaps Young spells Howard (Mayberry to 1B) on some days, Revere on others (Mayberry to CF) or even Brown (Mayberry in LF). Plus, Young can DH during interleague play, as he probably will tonight. There are plenty of one-through-nine manipulations to get Young regular at bats without curtailing the success of the lineup. But overall, he is just another bat that will come in handy when the inevitable slumps and/or injuries come about over the course of 162 games. His arrival will only be a negative if the Phillies utilize him like he is anything more.