The Pirates acquired Delwyn Young from the Dodgers for two players to be named later, according to MLB.com. Young was mentioned earlier this winter in the Jack Wilson trade talks as one possibility returning in a deal for Wilson. The Dodgers designated him for assignment this week, opening him to a deal with the Pirates.
The Pirates are getting a good young player who hasn’t really received a shot in the majors. Young has combined for a .308/.357/.513 line in his AAA career, with a homer every 29.31 ABs. He’s only received 165 at bats in the majors, posting a .267/.324/.394 line during that span, with a homer every 55 at bats.
Young turns 27 at the end of June, and is a switch hitter. In his major league career he’s a .270 hitter as a lefty against right handers, and a .259 hitter as a right hander against lefties.
The move is a curious one for the Pirates. Currently the 25-man roster has Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Brandon Moss, Craig Monroe, and Eric Hinske as outfield possibilities. That’s not counting Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata in the minors for the future, with McCutchen likely getting the call later this year.
The Pirates would need to not only drop a player from the 40-man roster, but also a player from the 25-man roster. The likely scenario is Luis Cruz being dropped from the 25-man, and maybe even from the 40-man roster. The problem here is that with Vazquez making starts at third for Andy LaRoche, Cruz is the only middle infielder on the bench.
I could also see the Pirates DFAing Jesse Chavez and bringing up Evan Meek, who has allowed just one hit in 3.1 innings at AAA. This would keep Cruz on the 40-man roster, although this scenario still requires that they send him down.
The deal leaves me with a feeling that there’s another shoe waiting to drop. The Pirates have the aforementioned outfielders, and it’s not like they’re getting bad production out of Brandon Moss or Nyjer Morgan from the starter roles. When McCutchen gets the call, the Pirates will have to put either Moss or Morgan on the bench, giving them four outfield options on the bench.
The Pirates would need consent from Monroe or Hinske to deal them this early in the season, as they are both free agent signings. They’re not going to go without a backup catcher, so Jaramillo is safe. Vazquez isn’t going anywhere. Demoting Cruz would leave the above problem of a lack of middle infield depth on the major league roster when Vazquez starts at third.
That leaves Moss or Morgan, who are two players who could be easily traded. It wouldn’t be a bad move to sell high on Nyjer Morgan’s hot start (he’s not going to be part of the long term plans with Tabata/McCutchen/McLouth) and use a combo of Morgan, Young, and Hinske until McCutchen is ready (or until McCutchen’s arbitration clock is delayed).
Of course, I’m just speculating here. Chances are this is just a move to add another bench player that the Pirates apparently like. The Pirates may even be able to buy some time with a 25-man roster decision by putting Young on the DL, as Young is currently rehabbing from an injury. They’d still have to clear space for him on the 40-man roster, which is where a Chavez for Meek swap makes sense.
UPDATE 4/15/09 11:03 AM: It was late when I posted this last night and I forgot that Young played second base in the minors. He played primarily at second up until the 2006 season, where I assume he was moved to the outfield to get his bat in the 25-man roster (Jeff Kent was at second for the Dodgers at this time). Young played in 398 minor league games at second, and 244 minor league games in the outfield. This makes it more likely that Luis Cruz will be dropped from the 25-man roster.