Either way, Young isn’t looking for another part-time role where his greatest contribution comes off the bench. He’s not interested in repeating as one of baseball’s better bargains.
“I’m sure Delmon would love to play every day and we hope we can find that opportunity for him,” said Young’s representative, Joel Wolfe of Wasserman Media Group. “I still think he has a lot left in the tank.”
Young became an integral part of the 2014 Orioles, which continues to amaze when you factor how he sought a tryout at the January minicamp and settled for a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. He made $6.75 million with the Tigers in 2012. He received a $1 million base salary with the Orioles.
I’m curious about the market for Young. He emerged as an outstanding pinch-hitter, going 10-for-20 in the regular season and delivering a three-run double in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. In that regard, he brings appeal to teams in both leagues. However, he’s not a strong defender - maybe a speck better than advertised with the Orioles - and may not be as good a fit in the National League without the designated hitter.
Young batted .312 against right-handers this season, destroying the theory that he’d be used strictly in a platoon role against lefties. He’s a career .276 hitter versus right-handers and .302 versus lefties.
Overall, Young batted .302/.337/.442 in 83 games, with 11 doubles, a triple, seven home runs and 30 RBIs. His on-base percentage was the highest of his career. He has a lifetime .317 OBP in nine major league seasons.
Need another selling point for Young? He’s the ultimate good luck charm, having played in the last six postseasons with four different teams.
You sign Delmon Young, you make the playoffs. It’s that simple.
I think it’s also the law.
Young showed up at the minicamp in excellent shape, removing any doubts about his health and commitment. He ran better than advertised. The surprises just kept coming.
“He seemed to play an important role on that team, not just down the stretch but through the season,” Wolfe said. “It’s difficult to do what he does in baseball, coming off the bench and being a threat. Hitting is all about timing. There aren’t a lot of guys in Major League Baseball that have had success and been productive while not being everyday players. For a while, he wasn’t even platooning.
“He’s highly motivated. He works very hard to be in shape. This was the first season in a while where he was healthy. That broken (ankle) really did it to him. It caused him to put on a lot of weight and he played through a lot of pain in Philadelphia, and it cost him. But once he got back from it, he got his speed back and his defense improved. And I don’t think you can really question the quality of his at-bats.”
It’s funny to look back at stories written about Young in January and the references to other outfielders signed by the Orioles before him, including Quintin Berry, Xavier Paul and Francisco Peguero. We never saw Paul and Peguero and only got a brief glimpse of Berry.
The late signing of Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million deal seemed to signal that Young had no shot at making the club in spring training, which proved to be false. There was room for Young, Cruz and Steve Pearce.
Pearce will remain with the Orioles. They want to retain Cruz, but he’s got to lower his expectations of a four-or five-year deal.
Young’s presence allowed manager Buck Showalter to use Cruz as designated hitter in about half the games and preserve the veteran’s legs. Pearce was busy at first base.
Young turned 29 in September. As Showalter pointed out numerous times, there’s a perception among fans and folks in the industry that Young is much older. The guy conceivably has a lot of baseball left in him.
The question is whether any of it will take place in an Orioles uniform.
“It’s hard to say,” Wolfe said. “I would obviously let Delmon decide and we’d have to compare what else is out there for him. We’re not able to talk to any teams yet. We’d have to see what’s out there for him and compare the opportunities.
“The one thing about Delmon is he wants to play for winners. I’m sure you know the story of how he ended up with Baltimore. He drove from Miami to Sarasota and tried out for them at the minicamp, and he met Buck and let Buck look into his eyes. And Buck liked what he saw.
“It wasn’t easy. Delmon had a good spring, but it came right down to the very last day before he was notified that he would be on the team. And there was stress throughout the season on dates where they had to make roster moves. We weren’t sure what would happen. It wasn’t necessarily smooth sailing.
“It was a minor league deal. Those are issues for players like this. We had that issue last year with Reed Johnson and Randy Wolf and Delmon and Jason Kubel and Jason Giambi. Baseball’s not kind to some of those these guys.”
Even one who was the first overall pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.
“Looking back in retrospect, it looks simple,” Wolfe said. “They brought him in and signed him, but there was a lot of stress in spring training and there were dates later that were problematic. But Delmon is a survivor.”
Stay tuned to find out whether he remains an Oriole.