Locked and Loaded: Delmon Young Avoids Arbitration with Twins


Kyle Lohse is safe.

His standing as the last Twins player to go through the arbitration process in its entirety remains intact. That was back in 2006 when he won his case and received a $3.95 million salary (the team was offering $3.4 million).

As far as 2011 is concerned, Delmon Young was the last player facing the arbitration process. That is, until he agreed on a $5.375 deal with the Twins today. Young’s representation had submitted $6.25 million and the Twins has submitted $4.65 million. The deal as it is reported is just shy of the standard midpoint settlement that both sides generally get to.

This agreement is the best case for both parties. No matter what you think of Delmon Young’s performance in Minnesota thus far, he still has the potential to be the impact bat that had him ranked as Tampa Bay’s top overall prospect in 2005, 2006 and 2007. He was also the Rays 2nd best prospect in 2004 behind only B.J. Upton.Delmon, the 1st overall pick of the 2003 draft, was also ranked in the top-3 of Baseball America’s Top-100 for 4 straight years (2004-2007). Prior to the start of the 2006 season he claimed the spot of top-prospect in all of baseball and things like that don’t just happen by accident. He had some moments in his first major league action in 2006 as a 20-year old but he did not burst onto the scene or establish himself as quickly as most people expected him to. Then there was that whole bat-flipping/throwing incident.

Those early expectations are a shame because they overshadow the fact that DY had been around a league average hitter in his first 4 seasons and 452 games played (2006-2009). Then last season as a 24-year old he hit 0.298/.333/.493 with 46 2B and 21 HR in 613 PA.

There are still those out there that doubt his ability and his future potential, but for me he turned a corner and is ready to become the superstar offensive player I’ve been waiting for. There are plenty of positive signs. For the third straight year his SLG increased (0.405 in 2008 to 0.423 in 2009 to 0.493 last season). In 2010 he struck out once in every 7.57 plate appearances which was a drastic improvement from his 2009 mark of 1 SO ever 4.52 PA and also an improvement over his 2008 mark of 1 SO every 5.93 PA. He doesn’t take a lot of walks and he swings at a lot of pitches out of the zone, but he does have a knack for making contact on those pitches. Delmon has always been overaggressive at the plate and that characteristic will likely always remain as a part of his profile, but he should be able to make gradual adjustments in his approach that will make this trait less of a liability.

On the defensive side of things he also improved significantly. While he was still below average in LF there was obvious and marked improvement. After a -18.7 UZR/150 in 2008 and -22.0 UZR/150 in 2009, he finished 2010 with a more palatable -11.0 UZR/150. The change in home venue surely helped his cause along these lines but it went beyond that. He’s never going to win a gold glove, but I do believe he can get to a point where he is near league average. If the Twins had let him play his natural position of RF from the moment he joined the team things could have been very different. In RF he was above average defensively with the Rays in 2006 and 2007 and the scouting reports of him in right while he was coming up in the minors were always positive as well.

Then there is the issue character and work-ethic. The 2006 bat tossing incident – which resulted in a 50-game suspension – cast Delmon in a very negative light. Few people chose to look beyond that regrettable action and many still hold that moment against him to this day. I personally give him a bit of a pass acknowledging that he was just 20 years old and was, to some degree, justifiably upset with the fact he wasn’t on the major league roster at the time. I did plenty of stupid things in college and had there been TV cameras around I shudder to think what my friends and family would have thought of me at times. I’ve come across various accounts and reports of his attitude throughout the years, and can’t say for sure how valid they were, but there was plenty of smoke before the 2006 incident. If you don’t believe me you can just do a Google search for “Delmon Young attitude.”

However, it seems that in the last year and a half, he’s really matured and started to devote himself to his career. He came to camp 30 pounds lighter last season and by all accounts was a more dedicated, personable and relaxed player. These changes caught everyone’s attention including his teammates, the fans and members of the media. It’s no coincidence that the huge step forward his game took during this time runs parallel to his increased maturity and focus.

Avoiding the arbitration process I think will be very important for both sides if they choose to discuss a long team deal. In fact, and I may be in the minority on this, but I would like to see the Twins give Young a 3-4 year deal sooner rather than later.

We haven’t seen the best of Delmon yet. After all, this is the same guy that earned the glowing and largely universal praise of scouts for many years. This is the same guy that according to Baseball America in 2007 “has the potential to contend for batting titles with at least 25-30 homers per season.” I recognize that profile is now 4 years old, but to watch Demon Young play baseball is to see that kind of talent just below the surface on every swing of the bat. In 2010, more than in any previous season that promise and talent started to manifest itself more consistently.

I’m not sure where the Twins payroll threshold really sits, though I have a suspicion it is higher than the organization is letting on. Still, whether that is the case or not, a multi-year deal for Delmon Young could wind up saving the team quite a bit of money in the long run.

~~~~~

Speaking of payroll, after the news of Delmon’s 1-year deal today, La Velle E Neal III mentioned in the Star Tribune that,

The Twins now have just over $110 million wrapped up in 19 players. The remainder of the roster should consist of players with zero to three years of experience. There’s a chance the Twins’ payroll should approach $113-115 million

Tags: Delmon Young Minnesota Twins

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