Mets make solid move in picking up outfielder Chris Young

Chris YoungNews came down the pipe today that the Mets signed Chris Young to a one-year deal, with no salary terms yet released. The good news is this is the former Diamondbacks and A’s outfielder – not the former Mets pitcher. Now the question remains: Is there any other good news to go along with this signing?

Young put up a .200/.280/.379 line last year, which are hardly numbers to get the fan base excited. Yet there are a couple of reasons to expect better production going forward. The first was a .237 BABIP. In 3,588 PA before 2013, Young had a career .278 BABIP so we can expect a fair bit of positive regression. The other big thing was his production in his home park.

Last year was his first year in Oakland and the Coliseum was not very kind to Young. In 196 PA in his home park, Young managed just a .606 OPS. Compare that to his road numbers, where he had a .208/.291/.428 line for an OPS mark 112 points higher. Usually hitters perform slightly better in their home park.

Now, to be fair, most Mets hitters didn’t get that particular memo in 2013. But the average NL batter last year posted an OPS 21 points higher in his home park. Hopefully both Young and the rest of the Mets can have a more typical H/R split in 2014. His brief exposure to Citi Field is not promising, however. In 41 PA Young has just a .550 OPS with only two extra-base hits – one double and one triple.

Young has five seasons as a full-time player under his belt and in the 2007-2011 period he posted an 11.6 fWAR. In 2010 and 2011, Young put up back-to-back years of 4.0+ fWAR numbers. He was off to a terrific start in 2012, with a 1.397 OPS including 9 XBH and 5 HR in 46 PA, before crashing into a wall to make a catch. He ended up with a shoulder injury that sidelined him for a month. When he finally came back, he was just a shell of himself, with a .655 OPS. However, he did crack 29 XBH over his final 286 ABs.

So, we have an established 4-win player who was off to a terrific start and then came down with a serious injury. Then he was traded from a good hitter’s park to a rotten one and his numbers took a predictable tumble. Also hurting his numbers was his lack of playing time. By the end of the year, Young was relegated to the short side of a platoon role. He’s always hit better against LHP but his numbers against righties – lifetime .710 OPS – are tolerable.

Most will look at this signing as the Mets adding a platoon player. Yet it seems that there’s just so much more potential upside here. Of course a lot will depend upon how much he’s getting paid but it’s hard to imagine that Sandy Alderson would have invested an eight-figure salary into such a player.

My initial reaction to the news is to be cautiously optimistic. While Young is not the impact bat that the Mets need to acquire, he has a reasonable chance to be an average player in a full-time role. As his old team the Athletics showed us last year, there’s a lot of value to not having any sinkholes in the lineup.

45 comments for “Mets make solid move in picking up outfielder Chris Young

  1. November 22, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Well it is something. Wouldn’t call it a big splash. This looks like the types of deals the mets want to make with players who had off / injured years in 2013. Looking for bargains.

  2. November 22, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Just saw on Metsblog: 1-year, $7.25 mil.

    Rosenthal says they’re still “interested” in Nelson Cruz…

    • November 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

      I’m a little surprised that Alderson paid that much for Young but I still think it’s a good move.

      I’ve said it before but I want no part of Nelson Cruz.

  3. Name
    November 22, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I’m interested to see the reaction to this signing. Seems to fit the “Boston way” which people have been clamoring for, yet I expect the overall reaction to be negative.
    I was initially shocked by the pricetag, but I’m slowly trying to convince myself that the upside was worth the cost. It’s a gamble signing.

    And now that Alderson has fulfilled his fetish of having a Young on the roster for the season, can we drop EY now? I don’t like have two players with the same last name as it forces us to use more than just the last name. In the case that both stay, will Eric Young have to take the nickname EY while Chris Young gets use of the name Young?

  4. Dr.Phibes
    November 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    25 to 30 million in additional payroll and Sandy drops 7.25 on Chris Young? Might as well resign Frank Francisco too.

    • November 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      The agent for Peralta says that 3/$45 isn’t going to be enough to sign him. If none of the top players are going to be available for less than $15 million, a guy with 4-WAR upside is a (relative) bargain at $7.25 million.

    • Joe Vasile
      November 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      The market seems to be giving players lots of money this year. That being said, $7.25 million on Chris Young is not really a whole lot of money when compared to the other contracts that have been given out. Just look at the deal that Jason Vargas just got.

  5. November 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    My reaction to this signing is: meh. I can appreciate the potential upside, but I’m not so hot on the $7.25 million. That’s strictly in the context of the apparent handcuffs ownership has put on Alderson in terms of spending. Players are clearly getting more than most thought, and this is another example. In the grand scheme of things this might work out well, but this obviously can’t be the biggest move they make this winter.

  6. Chris F
    November 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Well the big splash for Alderson’s game changing year as GM is pretty much another reclamation project. Clearly we are not shortstop shopping anymore; lets hope Tejada figures life out at fat camp or wherever he, Duda, and company have been banished off to. All things considered, Id of gone the extra 750k and stayed with Byrd. Money problems plague the Mets. Im sure El Capitano must be wondering why he re-upped for this hot mess.

    On a bright note, Lagares has been awesome in the DWL: “He has lifted his batting average to .384 with a .407 on-base, .477 slugging and a .884 OPS in 86 at-bats.” from MMO.

    • Joe Vasile
      November 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      I’d rather have Young than Byrd. Byrd’s coming off of a career season at age 35, and there’s no sense of buying high. Trying to buy low on Young is a move that could very well pay off, and he will earn the contract if he’s worth more than 1.2 WAR at the current WAR/$-in-FA ratio.

      • Chris F
        November 22, 2013 at 1:57 pm

        Buy low at 7.25M$? Hardly. Anyways, it doesnt matter, neither have the capacity to make the Mets a winning team or put fanny’s in the seats. More dumpster diving on a complete wild card en route to 70 more big wins next year.

        • November 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm

          If Jason Vargas can get 4/$32 — then Young at 1/$7.25 is a good deal. Everyone wants to mock Alderson for his “sticker shock” but if we’re going to do that then we can’t scoff at signing a 30 year old to a one-year deal where if he posts a 1.5 fWAR he’ll be worth his contract. Young has the potential to do that on defense alone.

          • Chris F
            November 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm

            Its not scoffing on value, its scoffing that SA continues to look for the Kmart Blue Light Special,instead of trying to make a playoff team.

            • November 22, 2013 at 5:46 pm

              Chris Young pushes them in that direction. He doesn’t push as much as Choo or Peralta might but he should be an upgrade. Alderson said he wanted to make three moves and I think it’s a mistake to think this is going to be the big one of the three.

      • Jerry Grote
        November 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm

        Joe … the problem with Young is that he requires you, pretty much, to make a decision on who gets CF.

        You can’t have Lagares’ 675 OPS in RF. I don’t care if he’s Dwight Evans with a glove out there, you can’t hide that bat. And for that matter, Young’s probable 720-740 OPS in RF is hardly a bonus at about 25% of your budget.

      • MikeB
        November 22, 2013 at 11:08 pm

        More than Byrd? This is a one year deal for Young. So, if he’s great, he’ll ask for $15 after this year, and if he’s bad, they get little. Byrd for 2 years much better deal.

  7. Doug
    November 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I think it says something about our degraded expectations when the signing of a player with a “reasonable chance to be an average player” is cause for cautious optimism…

    • Mark
      November 23, 2013 at 11:10 am

      Agree. THe author claims that Young has the chance to be an average player. Wow that is exciting. That is what the Mets need. He is a complimentary player once you have someone of the magnitude of a Trout or Braun in the outfield with him. But by himself this represents very little. So far he is average or even slightly below average (with a rather low OBP) with a little POP that might go unrealized in citi field. I hope he goes wild and proves Sandy right..but this kind of signing is at most for depth. On the other hand for what Peralta wants, David Wright should have received a 200MM contract.

      • November 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm

        So, the commenter thinks that Peralta wants too much money and thinks that picking up an average player on a bargain deal is boring. What exactly would he do?

  8. Jerry Grote
    November 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Still open to signing Peralta, although that trade is getting busy with interest from everyone now.

    Here’s the thing: Most of the value of Young comes from defense. All of the value of Lagares comes from defense. I think at a corner position, either he or Lagares won’t be able to hide their bats with great glove. Guys like Kelly Johnson (who probably will be signed for about $4MM) and Byrd, they DO have the bat to cover a corner spot.

    Still a fair value signing. Steamer says he’s 1.7 2014 (on only around 100 games; he’ll play at least 140 games or none at all). I don’t think it prevents a major signing … but again … that 1.7 surely is based on Young playing CF. Do we want Lagares hitting .240 in RF?

    • November 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      My guess is Lagares plays CF.

      Young has a decent BB rate and a solid ISO. His numbers don’t look as good as they could because he usually posts lower than normal BABIPs. The one year he was about “average” in the category with a .296 BABIP, he put up a .793 OPS

      • Jerry Grote
        November 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm

        Agreed, so what I get on Young is we’re looking at an OPS of 766 for his best years in a hitters park, and about 2.4 average wins during that time. I think it’s reasonable to say he’s not going to contribute that much defensively sitting next to Lagares, at least, not nearly 2 wins.

        The Ks will mount, and the fly balls will get swallowed up at Citi. If he loses half that offensive productivity, its still a good contract at 1.2 WAR. You’ve got a backup plan if (when?) Lagares shits the bed in CF, you have someone that has consistently proven he can play above average baseball in ML, and you didn’t sell the crown jewels to get it.

        Who could not like that signing?

    • Name
      November 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      Kelly Johnson has the bat? He pretty much did what Lucas Duda hit last year (who we sent to the minors) except with some better defense.

      • Jerry Grote
        November 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm

        Kelly Johnson:

        @Citifield: 760 OPS
        @Turner: 771 OPS
        @Citizens Bank: 817 OPS

        Marlins he had only 22 AB.

        Yeah, I think I’ll take those numbers, thank you very much.

        • Name
          November 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm

          The Citi field sample size is so small it’s irrelevant.
          The Citizens Bank/Turner stats are mostly from when he played with the Braves in his youth. He’s no longer that player anymore.

          I don’t think he’s good enough or capable of being a full time starting LF, but I do think he’s a fine utility player. However, his secondary positions are already manned by the current 2 best players on the Mets-Murphy and Wright so I don’t think he’d be a good fit for the Mets. I’d only consider him if Murphy was moved so his versatility could be utilized, otherwise, you’re only signing him to be a platoon LF.

          • Jerry Grote
            November 22, 2013 at 5:46 pm


            Johnson hits 18 HRs in his sleep; he’s put up 1.6 Wins on average since his so called “youth”, and he’s projected to get you 1 WAR in 81 games next year.

            He was so bad the last two years that two teams paid him a total of $9MM to produce 3 WAR. Oh that the Mets filled their lineup card with that kind of production.

            He wakes up and hits. He knows your division like the back of his hand. He’s cheap, dirt cheap. Because he isn’t a highlight reel player he, and players like AJ Pierzinski and LaTroy Hawkins simply don’t get signed for real deals.

            Let’s keep worrying about Choo and Elsbury and Fielder and on and on.

            • Name
              November 22, 2013 at 7:39 pm

              I thought i’d go see what an average player and a MLB regular might produce.

              I found this little discussion when searching the web.

              If you go down to post #7, you’ll see a distribution of PA with WAR for 2011, I can’t tell if they used bWAR or fWAR.
              Anyways, i took the weighted averages using the midpoint values each range and this is what i produced (i copy pasted this from excel so i’m not sure how this will look in the post)
              8.5 674 0.3648% 0.031006955
              7.5 5388 2.9161% 0.218710254
              6.5 2157 1.1674% 0.075882878
              5.5 5977 3.2349% 0.177920602
              4.5 10436 5.6483% 0.254171515
              3.5 14980 8.1076% 0.283765865
              2.5 27517 14.8930% 0.372324304
              1.5 27394 14.8264% 0.222396017
              0.5 42981 23.2625% 0.116312613
              -0.5 37749 20.4308% -0.102154088
              -1.5 7945 4.3001% -0.064500852
              -2.5 1071 0.5797% -0.014491381
              -3.5 496 0.2684% -0.009395719
              184765 1.561948962

              The final bottom right number is what i came up with. So, based on that way of calculation, the “average” player should produce a WAR of around 1.56. Sadly, that does not answer the question of what a MLB regular should produce.

              Here’s what someone else wrote (post 5):
              “For position players in 2010, an average QUALIFIED player (145 of them) played 145 games with 602PA and 3.2 WAR and RC+ of 113. *looks like he used fWAR.
              These are obviously “good” players only 20 were under 1 WAR.”

              So in 2011 and 2012, Johnson had enough PA to qualify for such list. His WAR during those years were 1.8 and 0.4. He was a below average regular in 2011 and one of the worst in 2012. So accordingly in 2013, he was relegated to a utility role and only had 400 PA (100 short).

              I’ll stick with my original statement and say that Johnson would be a below-average MLB regular.

              Also, to explain why better players get so much more money than guys like Johnson, i could get into a discussion about the fact that WAR should be valued on an increasing marginal basis instead of the 5 mil/WAR that is typically used but i think this post is long enough already.

              • Jerry Grote
                November 22, 2013 at 11:30 pm

                From the article you posted:

                “The result of the study showed that the majority of all players (73%) fell between negative one and positive one wins above replacement, WHILE PLAYERS EARNING MORE THAN ONE WAR WERE SURPRISING RARE.”

                Johnson has put up WARs of 1.7, 1.7 and 1.3 on BBref, and a total of 3 WAR from Fangraphs.

                If you prefer wRC+, his numbers last year were a touch over league average. His career is a 104, and he projects as a 94 for next year on only 81 games.

                The Mets have proved that simply coming up with league average isn’t as easy as you’d think. I’m guessing they gave up 2000 ABs to players unable to produce either his bWAR last year, or his wRC+ last year.

                At any rate, by the article you quote he is definitively “rare”. He’s yours for $4MM. AJ Pierzinski is yours for $8MM. LaTroy Hawkins could have been yours for $2.5MM.

                Sign away on Choo and Els, because that’s where you need to go. Just like Tex, just like CC, just like Pujols, just like Hamilton, just like Upton, just like Fielder, just like blah, blah, blah. Their “marginal” value, I’m sure, is clear to their respective teams.

                • Name
                  November 23, 2013 at 1:16 am

                  Going back to what you originally said “they DO have the bat to cover a corner spot”.
                  The average OPS for a LF has been no lower than 727 over the past couple of years. Johnson highest OPS over the last 3 years has been 717.
                  Over the last 3 years he has also had significant lefty/righty splits. Last year his success at the dish was due to limiting his exposure to Lefties. Make him a full time LF and exposing him to lefties and you’re probably looking at him reverting back to his 2012 of 85 wRC+, which is not a bat that justifies a corner spot.

                • Jerry Grote
                  November 23, 2013 at 1:24 pm

                  So you didn’t care for the fact that the article YOU quoted stated that getting a single WAR is relatively rare, and you want to move on to what? Lefty righty splits? OK.

                  Take a look at his numbers and you’ll see you are wrong there too. If you give him another 50 games it won’t impact him in the least. His splits in the last three years wasn’t severe AND he faced a normal distribution of LHP and RHP; giving him more ABs won’t expose anything at all.

                  You think he’s going to revert to 2012? Let’s see, what made 2012 different in Kelly Johnson’s career? Oh yeah; he changed leagues. Like I showed above, he consistently hit well in our division. Steamer suggests he’ll produce a WAR and a wRC+ at 94 for only 81 games.

                  Kelly Johnson is a cheap, relatively productive bat that gives you consistent performance. You can spend more, but you probably won’t get better value.

                • Name
                  November 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm

                  First of all, I’ve only been discussing whether Johnson should be a utility player or a starting player. This is not about whether he is correctly valued or not.

                  The thing I linked to you was not an article, but rather a discussion. And I only linked there to cite the statistics, I don’t agree with all the opinions that were written there.
                  One “problem” with WAR when used to compare two players is that WAR acts more like a counting stat than an indicator stat like Batting average. As a result, players who only play a few games are likely to be very to 0, which skews the real distribution (actually the minimum PA in which I found a player with greater than 1 WAR or -1 WAR was Henry Blanco at 112 PA) . In an attempt to rectify this, I decided to look at WAR per Game played for 2013.
                  I first did it without any restrictions and without pitchers. I found that just 33% percent of players were within the -1 to 1 WAR range, and 45% were over 1 WAR. Kelly Johnson fell in the 37th percentile (240/637)
                  Then I decided to restrict to 50 PA to weed out some of the guys who only play a few games. 34% fell in the -1 to 1 range, and 50% were over 1 WAR. Johnson was in the 41st percentile (233/558)

                  The trend continues as you keep restricting the PA, and by the time you limit it to qualified players, 85% of players are above the 1 WAR line, with the median being somewhere close to 3 WAR. Even if we give Kelly Johnson the benefit of the doubt by assuming he can play LF full time (looking at his UZR i have doubts) and double his projected 1 WAR/81 games to 2 WAR over a full season, he still would be a below-average regular.

                  In 2011/2012, he had a righty-lefty ratio of about 2.7. That number spiked to 3.3 in 2013. I’d call that pretty significant. Also, Toronto and tampa are the in same league.

  9. Sean Flattery
    November 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    This a cross your fingers, hope for the best signing. Which would be ok if he was signed after other acquistions.

    He batted .200 in 335 ABs last year!!! Am I crazy or isn’t this the same reason people are running Ike outta town?????

    • Jerry Grote
      November 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      You are completely crazy.
      . Ike didn’t fall apart in just one year. He’s failed several times.
      . At no point has Ike ever put together a single season like CY has done twice
      . You have 3200 ABs in AZ or 330 ABs in Oak. Which is more likely to reveal the real CY?
      . When judging Ike, you have several hundred ABs where he performed well, and an overall history of NOT performing as well.
      . Unlike Ike, Young delivers a well-rounded set of abilities.

      If you are wise, you never un-cross your fingers; there is risk anytime you say yes and anytime you fail to say yes.

      • Sean Flattery
        November 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm

        So if Chris Young performed for the Mets like he did for the A’s the past two seasons…You would re-sign him for a third?

        • November 22, 2013 at 5:49 pm

          Young was fine two years ago with the Diamondbacks, even with the injury. If we could prorate his stats in 2012 for a 150-game season, I would definitely re-sign him.

        • Jerry Grote
          November 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm

          He played for the Athletics in 2013 only.

          If he had produced for the Mets, what he did for the Diamond Backs in 2010,2011 & 2012 … would you have EVER let him get away?

          Do you suppose that there is a single DBack fan that doesn’t regret the trade that saw Chris Young leave Arizona?

          • Sean Flattery
            November 22, 2013 at 7:34 pm

            I was referring to the past two seasons, which I think are more relevant to a 2014 signing.

            Should the criteria be how they played three years ago? If so, just trade for Either and sign Brian Wilson and call it a day. SMH

            • Jerry Grote
              November 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

              How is Brian Wilson – who hasn’t played any meaningful innings at all in two years relevant to a player that had a pretty good 2012?

              Think a little more and I’m sure you can come up with some additionally ridiculous comps.

              And if you could get Andre Ethier for $7.25MM, that would be the biggest bargain of them all. I’d love to hear why the three WAR he’s put up or the 122 OPS+ isn’t very good.

              Yeah. Great comps.

  10. steevy
    November 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    He’s 30 and coming off two bad seasons.Definitely Met material!(I’m not totally down on it,just kind of surprised he cost so much)

    • Jerseymet
      November 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

      The contract does seem rich. Why not one of our AAAA types already on the roster? We have several good defensive players with mediocre bata. I like lottery tickets,but at 7.5 Million this guy will be kept in the starting line up no matter how bad he plays- as Bay was. The nice thing about Cowgil and Ankiel was that Mets cut ties quickly.

  11. Metsense
    November 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    CF 2013 NL AVG: 14 HR, 329/394/722 and NL Avg RF: 23 HR 334/443/777
    Chris Young career stats 315/431/746 with 20 HR potential. Steamer projects 315/408/723. He is a good defensive CF. Young is more valuable as a CF, where he has been a plus player. Signing him to play RF diminishes the value of the signing. In RF he is a below average player. He is only 29 yoa. There is a better chance that he improves over last season instead of declining further. The signing gives the Mets some versatility. This is only the first transaction. I thought the signing was fair value but I am surprised that Sandy did not request a team option year.

    • Sean Flattery
      November 22, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      I agree! It’s a good move for versatility if they sign two other superior bats for the lineup. Otherwise, is poke and hope

  12. Jim OMalley
    November 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I’m ok with this move and I’m ok with the Allen move earlier this week. Lets just hope these are the soft-toss warm-ups to some real deals.

  13. July 31, 2014 at 8:42 am


    • July 31, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Chris Young stinks
      Chris Young is terrible
      Chris Young has a .294/.359/.500 line in his last 12 games.

      Yeah, he got off to a brutal start. So did TDA and to a lesser extent Duda. At this point, I want to see the Mets still give him starts on a regular, consistent basis.

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