Should the Rays Bring Back Delmon Young?

By Robbie Knopf

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.