If ever a player was a natural signing for the Orioles, it’s Delmon Young.
Honestly, once I looked over his career yesterday, I couldn’t help but think, “what took them so long?”
Young was a former #1 draft pick of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays who was going to be the next great thing. He could do it all — back then. Baseball people like to identify players with the “tools” they possess…hitting, hitting for power, fielding, running, etc. They’re then known as 3-tool, 4-tool, 5-tool, etc. With Young, they once thought they had a 7-tool player.
It didn’t work out that way, of course, which is why he signed a minor league deal with the Orioles yesterday.
A player who once commanded a salary of nearly $7 million a year, Young is the perfect off-season catch for the Birds based mainly on the salary he’ll require in ’14 when he makes the team. Last year, he made $750,000 in a split season with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. That means he should come in at under $1 million for the Birds.
Young also some brings some extra baggage with him when he arrives in Sarasota next month. Back in 2006, Young was suspended from minor league baseball for 50 games after throwing a bat at an umpire during an on-field incident. Two seasons ago while playing with the Tigers, Young was involved in a hate-crime after a conflict with patrons of a New York bar/restaurant. He was accused of shouting anti-Semitic slurs to a group of people while he was intoxicated, later pleaded guilty, and performed 10 hours of community service.
That, of course, is in the past.
And the world is literally his oyster here in Baltimore, where Dan Duquette and the Orioles have been pursuing a right handed bat all off-season but couldn’t convince one of the quality free agents to take $800,000 for the season.
If Delmon Young stays healthy and keeps his nose clean — and just makes occasional contact in spring training – it’s likely he’ll show up on March 31 and be part of the opening day twenty five who make the trip down the orange carpet from centerfield to second base in pre-game ceremonies.
It’s not the kind of signing any of us wanted, but it’s most certainly the kind of signing we all knew we’d see. Duquette tried a similar tact with Travis Ishikawa last winter and he turned into what we all expected — a dud. We jokingly refer to it around here as “dumpster diving”, the on-going search for a needle in a haystack.
Delmon Young is certainly in the haystack. A once decent player with a solid pedigree, down on his luck after a handful of unproductive years, willing to play for baseball’s version of Ramen Noodles — that’s the sort of reclamation project Dan Duquette believes in.
And that’s what we get these days in Baltimore.
That said — he IS right handed. It’s a start, at least.