Sep 27, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Madden (70) congratulates designated hitter Delmon Young (15) on his solo home run in the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Rays Bring Back Delmon Young?

Who would have thought that Delmon Young would return to Tampa Bay? Despite his talent, Young was enough of a problem child that the Rays traded him following his rookie year as part of the famous deal for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett. Then things only got worse. Young filled out 240 pounds and his once five-tool skill-set was down to three at best. And despite Young turning into an average player as opposed to the star he seemed destined to become, his attitude never got better. he became a distrction in every clubhouse he went to and a cautionary tale for every top prospect going up the ranks. People laughed when he signed with the Phillies and no one was surprised wehn he got cut. However, everything changed when he signed with the Rays. He returned to Tampa Bay nothing like the player he used to be, and maybe this new Delmon deserves a chance to come back.

In 23 games and 70 plate appearances, Young hit to a .258/.329/.452 line (117 OPS+) with 3 doubles, 3 homers, and 7 RBI. In five playoff games, he went 3 for 11 (.272) with a homer and 3 RBI. Young joined the Rays expected to be a part-time DH against left-handed pitching, and at least for that brief time, he wound up being so much more. He played so well that he worked his way into playing time against righties as well, actually finishing with more plate appearances against righties overall. Young has shown the ability to be excellent for short stretches before, specifically in the playoff for the Tigers. His raw power is still as incredible as it used to be, and he can go off on tears. But with the Rays, Young showed the best plate discipline of his career, managing a 10-7 strikeout to walk ratio in 83 total plate appearances. He still swung early in the count a little too often, but he finally started having longer plate appearances and making pitchers work. In the clubhouse, Young became a positive influence and off the field, he did nothing wrong. This Delmon Young is not a great player. Given his defensive deficiencies, he may not be more than an average one even if this last. But we saw some promise, and that has to be something the Rays consider when they decide whether to bring him back.

In 2013, Delmon Young made just $700,000. Even after the way he finished the season, how much does he make this season? $1 million? 1.5? The Rays can certainly afford that. Should Delmon Young be the Rays’ designated hitter next season? They certainly won’t take him for granted and expect them to enter spring training with several players competing for time. But what do the Rays have to lose bringing him back at almost no cost after how well he played? Delmon Young looked liked a different player back in a Rays uniform. That player may have the ability to help the Rays next season for pennies on the dollar.

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  • phattitudes

    Considering Stu’s comment that the team salary must come down, Delmon seems like exactly the type of player we have to sign. DH is an open need. However 1B and C are even bigger needs. In addition there are needs to fill reserve IF and/or OF positions. The bullpen is also going to be rebuilt to some extent. This all will cost bucks. While I believe the Rays would prefer a left handed hitting DH, Delmon is probably too big a bargain to pass up. I doubt we have the $$$ to reach for a Kendys Morales. They could also go cheap by filling the reserve IF and/or OF positions internally with players like Tim Beckham or Brandon Guyer Saving money on those positions may enable them to dip into the FA market for a Carlos Ruiz at C. Getting Loney back may not be possible. The wild card will be what they do with Price. A trade seems to be in order and that could alter the picture entirely. Therefore they probably hold off on any big moves until that gets resolved. The trade could yield the answer at C or 1B. Ultimately it comes down to $$$ and needs. Bottom line is to determine what to do with Price and then fill in accordingly.

    • Robbie_Knopf

      You have to think the Rays stick with internal options at C after doing so the last two years. Unless the perfect player falls into their laps, expect low-cost signings at DH, first base, and in the outfield and nothing more on the offensive side. I doubt Beckham will start the year as a backup, but I’m very interested in Guyer. He has been so injury prone but remains talented, and I would not be shocked if he came to spring training healthy and won a spot on the Rays’ roster.