Analysis

Free Agent Pass or Play: Chris Young

Young could bring right-handed power, speed, and great defense to the Phillies in 2014 for the right price.

Each day until free agency begins, we at Phillies Nation will take a look at a player who will become a free agent five days from the conclusion of the World Series. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with right-handed outfielder Chris Young. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink.

Performance

When Young burst onto the MLB landscape in 2007, smashing 32 homers as a rookie for the NL West-winning Diamondbacks, many predicted a long, prosperous career for the then-23/24-year old, particularly if he could limit his strikeouts. By 2010, Young had become a plus-defender and an All-Star with 27 homers and 28 steals. Young would maintain a similar pace through 2011 before injuries slowed him down in 2012. Young was traded to the A’s as part of a three-way deal last offseason that also sent Heath Bell to the Diamondbacks from the Marlins.

Young was a part-time player in 2013 for the A’s but still hit 12 homers and stole 10 bases for the AL West champs. Young has a career .262/.363/.474 triple-slash line against lefties and is a competent center fielder, adding almost two wins in value over his career via defense according to FanGraphs.

Some may be scared by Young’s career 22.9% K-rate but Young also posts a respectable 10% BB-rate. Young’s 9.6% BB rate in 2013 was higher than any Phillie with 200+ PA other than Darin Ruf and Young struck out almost 7% less than Ruf in more PA. Young was successful in 10 of 13 stolen base attempts.

Fit

The last couple of posts in this series have had a direct focus on right-handed power hitters. The Phillies do need at least one starting-caliber right handed outfielder and should probably equip themselves with a right-handed bench bat. I think Young could serve either role. Young just turned 30, only three years older than Ruf and is three months older than Mayberry. He can play all three outfield positions well and could allow the Phillies to get creative if someone insisted on having Ben Revere in a trade package.

Cost

According to the awesome FanGraphs crowd-sourcing project, Young is likely in line for somewhere between $5-7 million per year for two years. It is worth noting that the Oakland A’s do have a team option available for $11 million for Young’s services in 2014 with a $1.5 million buyout.

Feasability

Young would not only fit into the budget but would be a great pick-up. Young adds power and speed from the right side that this line-up surely lacks and is much cheaper than other options like Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo without the need for a long-term commitment. Young would allow the Phillies to get creative and explore trades involving Revere and Domonic Brown.

Verdict: Play, Play, Play

Much like Marlon Byrd earlier today, Young is a player who can really help the Phillies in 2014. Young, in one swoop, can improve the Phillies hitting against left-handed pitching, improve their defense, and improve their marks on the basepaths with significantly less risk than Byrd comes with for about the same price. Young is my sleeper free agent of 2014 and is one player that will be included in my 2014 Offseason Plan for the Phillies.

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