Mets sign ex-A's outfielder Young to one-year deal
Veteran could start at any of the three outfield spots or split time in platoon
NEW YORK -- The Mets began addressing their outfield vacancies Friday morning, agreeing to a one-year contract with Chris Young, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations. The Mets have not commented on the deal because it is pending a physical, which Young will undergo next week.
Young, 30, hit .200 with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases last season, his first in Oakland after seven years with the D-backs. The Houston native's best year came in 2010, when he batted .257 with 27 home runs and 28 steals, making his only All-Star appearance. But after averaging 23 homers and 20 steals per year from 2007-11, Young mustered combined totals of 26 long balls and 18 swipes over the past two seasons.
Young's recently-expired five-year, $28 million contract paid him $8.5 million in 2013, after the D-backs traded him to the A's in a three-team deal that landed Arizona Heath Bell. Young's new deal is worth a reported $7.25 million, which would make him the second-highest-paid player on the Mets behind third baseman David Wright.
Though Young has played mostly center field throughout his career, he also appeared in 26 games in right field last season and 24 in left. If the Mets choose to keep Juan Lagares in center in 2014, they could plug Young into either corner spot. If not, manager Terry Collins could use Young in center and Lagares, who played extensively in right late in the season, could remain there.
A right-handed hitter, Young is known for his massive career platoon splits, slashing .262/.363/.474 versus left-handed pitching but only .225/.295/.415 against righties. The Mets could still sign a left-handed bat -- Nate McLouth and Jason Kubel are among those available -- to platoon with Young, or simply play him every day and hope he rediscovers the stroke that allowed him to hit 21 homers against right-handed pitchers in 2010.
As currently constituted, the Mets are looking at an outfield mix of Young, Lagares, Eric Young Jr. and Andrew Brown, plus another free-agent pickup or trade acquisition. They could still sign another everyday outfielder, though general manager Sandy Alderson has publicly expressed his hesitancy to give out the type of nine-figure deal that top free agents Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo would command.
The Mets could also move Eric Young Jr. to a utility role, or to second base if they trade Daniel Murphy. Much is fluid at this point in the offseason.
"We're certainly busier this week than the week before, both in making calls and receiving calls," Alderson said Tuesday. "And that's true of free agents as well as other clubs. It's following a somewhat predictable pattern."
The goal, Alderson said, is to be more aggressive this winter than he was a year ago, when the Mets did not make their first big league signing until Jan. 30. Already, the GM has accomplished that with the signing of Young.
"I think we have to be realistic about the market," Alderson said, referring to the high cost of early signings throughout baseball. "We can't just sort of deny the inevitable. If the market is as robust as it seems to be, then we have to acknowledge that. If we're going to participate, I think we have to recognize that. It may not be manifest yet to the average fan, the average person, but I think we are more active than we were last year."