The Red Sox made their first real foray into the free agency market today, signing outfielder Chris Young to a multi-year deal, per Ken Rosenthal. There’s a lot to like about this move. Some quick thoughts:
- Young is going to help out in a lot of ways. I tweeted this earlier, but it’s pretty clear how he’s going to be used: He’s a 4th outfielder who provides some right handed hitting off of the bench and could make a platoon partner with Jackie Bradley Jr. Young could also be effective insurance against a JBJ or Rusney Castillo implosion.
- Steamer currently projects Young to put up a .237/.308/.409 slash line with 11 HRs and a 95 wRC+ in 340 plate appearances in 2016. Those numbers would be down from Young’s resurgent 2015, when he posted a .252/.320/.453 line with 14 HRs and a 109 wRC+ (tying his career high in 2010).
- Those projections don’t take into account that Young, one of the game’s most pull heavy hitters, will playing the majority of his games at Fenway Park. Take a look at his spray chart (via Fangraphs) from last season:
- That’s a lot of balls hit to left field, and not many hit to right. Every single one of those 14 HRs was pulled. Young pulled nearly 60% of the balls he put in play last season, second only to the Twins’ Brian Dozier among players with 350 or more plate appearances. I’m not a rocket scientist, but something tells me we’ll be seeing plenty of dents in the Monster off of Young’s bat.
- Young has been an above average defender over the course of his career, though the metrics have shown he’s tailed off a bit the last two or three seasons. While Young’s career Defensive Runs Saved is 28 and his career Ultimate Zone Rating is 13.9, he hasn’t posted positive numbers in DRS since 2012 or in UZR since 2013. This is part of the aging curve that every player goes through (Young is 32), but it’s worth noting that he’s definitely slipped a bit in the field since the earlier part of the decade.
- The Red Sox also outrighted infielder Josh Rutledge to Triple A today after DFAing him on November 20th. Rutledge didn’t make much of an impact last season after being acquired from the Angels for what was left of Shane Victorino, and it looks like the Sox are planning on stashing the veteran in the minors for when Dustin Pedroia inevitably pulls, tears, or breaks something diving for a grounder that gets by Hanley Ramirez in June. With Young on board, Boston’s bench looks like it will also feature utilityman Brock Holt, corner infielder Travis Shaw, and whichever catcher is the odd man out of the Blake Swihart/Christian Vasquez/Ryan Hanigan trio. Young’s right handed bat will be much needed with Holt and Shaw both lefties (Young has slugged .837 and posted a 122 wRC+ against LHP during his career) and Vasquez/Hanigan not exactly known for putting a charge into the ball.
It’s tough not to be down with this signing: Young is a vet with value that could be enhanced at Fenway Park and addresses several different needs. The terms of the deal haven’t been announced yet, but unless the $$ figure is obscenely high, this is a good, albeit minor move by the Red Sox front office. With teams falling out of the David Price sweepstakes left and right, one has to wonder if that will be the next domino to fall.