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Off-Season Trade Candidate: Chris Young

Chris Young has been a fixture in center field since 2007, through good times and... not-so-good times.  Could the Arizona outfielder's time in Arizona be up this off-season?
Chris Young has been a fixture in center field since 2007, through good times and... not-so-good times. Could the Arizona outfielder's time in Arizona be up this off-season?

Note: Everything in the following post is pure speculation by me.  In case you're wondering, I have not heard even the slightest rumblings of a possible trade involving Young.

For one reason or another, every idea for a post to write that I come up with during this pennant chase we're in the midst of seems to look past this magical season.  So if you were wondering why I keep writing about the off-season, allow me to put your wonders at rest: I have no idea.  Moving past my strangeness, I'm beginning to become one of the biggest supporters of D-backs outfield prospect A.J. Pollock.  Pollock's sound contact abilities, good on-base skills, gap-to-gap power, center field defense, polish, and cost-control give Arizona fans something to be truly excited about, but Pollock's primary position is currently occupied at the big-league level by Chris Young.  If Pollock is ready for the show - and there's a legitimate argument that can be made that he is - he would be underutilized wallowing away in Triple-A or as a fourth outfielder.

Don't get me wrong, Pollock is not the only reason that the team might consider trading Chris Young.  Rather, Pollock is more of the insurance policy that allows Arizona to consider trying to get as much value from their investment in CY as possible.  There might never be a better time than now, as Young still has an undeniably team-friendly three years and about $26.9MM remaining on his contract, which ensures that he'll have plenty of trade value.  Arizona could, for instance, fill in some of its big-league infield holes by being willing to move Young.  However, given Young's volatility at the plate, D-backs GM Kevin Towers may not want to spend a large portion of the team's payroll on CY.  For years, Towers built his clubs in San Diego around a select few highly-paid stars (i,e. Trevor Hoffman, who earned plenty of cash in his time in San Diego despite minuscule payrolls), complimenting them with role players to fill in the holes.  Is Young a star?  There's no doubt that he's a very good major league player, but star is a stretch.

I'd like to thank Cot's Baseball Contracts for being a shining beacon of baseball knowledge.  Being a baseball writer would be immeasurably more difficult without that site.

Like I did when valuing Mark Reynolds in my Kevin Towers GM GPA post, it's fitting to begin by trying to figure out just how much value Young might produce in the coming seasons.  As mentioned above, Young has three years and $26MM remaining on his contract: he's set to make $7.2MM in 2012, $8.7MM in 2013, and has an $11MM club option in for 2014 with a $1.5MM buyout.  All three of those salaries are inexpensive for Young's talent level.  Speaking of Young's talent level, let's try to see what kind of production can be expected from CY going forward.  It's table time!

Chris Young Surplus Value Calculations:
Contract details
  - Contract length (assumes 2014 option picked up): 3 years
  - Contract salary: $26.9MM
5/4/3 three-year wRAA weights:
   '09 -9.3
   '10 13.5
   '11 3.9
Projected wRAA: 3.80
Approx. League Average (FanGraphs' "Replacement") RAR/650 PAs: 21.5
Approx. CF Positional Adjustment per 150 G, in RAR: 2
Career UZR/150: 0.1
Expected RAR/year: 27.4
Expected WAR/year: 2.74
WAR/3 years: 8.22
Value of 2012-2014 WAR, in $MM, assuming $5MM/WAR: 41.10
Contract Salary, in $MM: 26.9
Surplus Value, in $MM: 14.2

Avoiding time value of money - because that would be more math for me to do - that roughly adds up, according to the research of Victor Wang that I have probably sited in about a dozen different posts, to exactly the value of a hitter ranked between 51st and 75th in the game.  However, I seriously doubt Arizona would be looking to acquire prospects in a trade for Young - 2012 is another season that this club hopes to contend for the division in, so trading a starting center fielder for prospects would make little sense.

Additionally, there's good reason to believe that Young is actually better than these numbers.  The reason Young's career UZR/150 is so low is partially due to the fact that Young measured negative UZR figures in his first full season in the majors and in the disastrous 2009 collapse year.  In 2010 and so far through 2011, Young has posted a combined UZR of 11.8 in 272 games.  Since that figure is likely stabilized to Young's talent level, and since CY plays about 160 games per year, that adds up to a 6.9 UZR per year.  On the other hand, while it's perhaps a bit of subjective selectivity, I don't feel it necessary to adjust Young's hitting for that 2009 season because a) I think CY's 2010 offensive production was regression that balanced out some of the poor luck Young was subjected to in 2009, and b) the resulting projected wRAA is hauntingly similar to his current annualized 2011 wRAA.

Thus, I think it's probably safe to say that Young's true talent level is about seven runs per year above the numbers in the table above, making CY about a 3.4 WAR per year player.  Over three years that's a total of about 10.2 WAR, or about $51MM of value by the $5MM/WAR "market value" measurement.  Subtracting the $26.9MM due to him, that makes for a surplus value of $24.1MM.  With that considered, the rest is where the fun part comes in: speculating on which teams could show interest in trading for Chris Young.  Rather than try to think of teams off the top of my head, I'll be a bit more methodical and go through each team, looking for the teams who could use a center fielder.  After that, I'll look to see if there's a match coming back from the other team that could fit the needs Arizona has for the 2012 roster.


NL West:

Colorado Rockies: Dexter Fowler has had some ups and downs throughout his career, but he's still a fine center fielder and above-average regular player.  With how inexpensive Fowler will be in 2012 (entering arbitration for the first time), a Young acquisition wouldn't make much sense.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp might be better as a corner outfielder, but considering the fact that the Dodgers just dealt Trayvon Robinson for a bucket of bats and balls, I doubt they have any plans to move Kemp from his current center field slot.  No deal here.

San Diego Padres: The Padres just stole center fielder Cameron Maybin from the Marlins last off-season (in a move that I was admittedly skeptical about), who has been every bit as good as Young in 2011.  With the Padres' super-cost-conscious ways, Young isn't going to San Diego.

San Francisco Giants: Young would certainly be an upgrade for the Giants, but what offensive pieces could they actually offer Arizona?  The one and only real answer here is Pablo Sandoval, but considering that the Panda is just entering arbitration and is a good deal better than Young, there's no way Arizona is able to pull off that swap.


NL Central:

Chicago Cubs: After a solid 2010, Marlon Byrd has had a mediocre 2011 and will be a free agent at the end of the year.  For a rebuilding Cubs team with a large payroll, acquiring a controllable, consistent veteran like Chris Young for their outfield could make a bit of sense.  It would banish prospect Brett Jackson to right field, but Jackson is no sure thing.  Young would have a chance to be around in Chicago when the Cubs could next legitimately contend, and could reap massive benefits from playing in Wrigley Field when the wind is blowing out towards the outfield walls.

Unfortunately, the Cubs have little infield help to offer, as Darwin Barney is freaking horrible, but perhaps a CY-for-Matt Garza trade could make sense on both sides?  Garza makes nearly $6MM in 2011, his second of four arbitration years.  He'll likely be a shade more expensive than Young, and I think a nice estimate of Garza's true talent level is in the 3.6 ERA range, with some upside that he'll be a #1-caliber starter and downside of being just a #3 man.  With Garza's wide range of expectations, I think Young is a bit more valuable, particularly with the extra year of control to be considered.  Garza and a low-level C+/B- prospect for Young would be a solid deal, but of course would fail to fill any holes on the D-backs roster.  Moving Young without filling the infield hole doesn't make much sense to me.

Cincinnati Reds: Drew Stubbs might be the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball.  Moving on...

Houston Astros: As cute of an idea as it would be for Young to return to Houston, it simply makes no sense.  Houston needs to take an atomic bomb to their roster, shed any veteran weight from it, and try to rebuild their flagging farm system in hopes that it'll allow them to contend in another three or four years.  Given that the Astros just traded a center fielder of approximately Young's caliber in Michael Bourn, any idea of them turning around and buying a different center fielder would be ludicrous.  Jose Altuve and Jordan Lyles would be great pieces for Arizona to inquire about when looking to move Young, but that trade simply isn't happening.

Milwaukee Brewers: With Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, and Carlos Gomez patrolling the Brewers' outfield for the foreseeable future (unless one of Gomez or Morgan get non-tendered, the soonest one of those four is a free agent is in 2014), there's no need for Chris Young here.  Their focus is on what they'll do at first base in 2012.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen in center field is perhaps the only position player the Pirates have that figures to be a part of their long-term plans.  The only other guys who even merits consideration, Neil Walker, would make a pretty nice second baseman for Arizona, though.  McCutchen is totally a corner guy, right?!?!  (note: McCutchen is a corner outfielder in no way, shape, form, metaphysical condition, or semblance.  No trade.)

St. Louis Cardinals: St. Louis made a bold attempt at chasing the NL Central crown by mortgaging their future, shipping off center fielder Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays in order to acquire starter Edwin Jackson for the stretch run.  Jon Jay is a nice player, but he's no long-term center fielder, so if the Cardinals are able to re-sign that Poo-holes guy (I hear he's a big deal), get a solid return year from Adam Wainwright, extend the voodoo spell currently making Lance Berkman an All-Star-caliber player, and possibly find a way to re-sign Jackson, they'll have a heck of a chance to make a title run in 2012.  Having Chris Young in center field would quickly make fans forget about Rasmus, and give then one of the most fearsome outfields in baseball with Matt Holliday, CY, and Berkman (again, assuming the voodoo spell is extended - this is a necessity).

While it would be nice to dream that Arizona could snag Jaime Garcia from the Cards, that's a bigger dream than what Chris Tucker had in Rush Hour 2.  So let's go ahead and scratch that fantasy off the wishlist.  As far as pitching is concerned, the Cardinals have little to offer outside of Kyle Lohse, who has been nice for them in 2011 but was a disaster in 2010 and is due over $12MM in 2012.  No thanks on Lohse, St. Louis.  The next names on the fWAR list are relievers, led by Jason Motte and Fernando Salas.  They're nice relief arms with plenty of control, but Motte is headed to arbitration while Salas is the team's closer, so a move centered around pitching doesn't appear likely.

So it seems that any deal would have to involve position players.  The most likely choice would be David Freese, who is a heck of a player when healthy and would solve the D-backs' infield troubles, but that "when healthy" is an enormous disclaimer.  Let me put it this way: Freese has accumulated 1.6 fWAR through just 61 games in 2011, but Freese has also accumulated 1.6 fWAR through just 61 games in 2011.  Thankfully, Freese doesn't hit arbitration until 2013, so Arizona would have another full year of minimum-salary control of him before heading to the arbitrator.  Would a Freese/Motte package be interesting if the team is looking to recoup some value for their everyday center fielder?


NL East:

Atlanta Braves: The Braves just acquired Michael Bourn from the Astros at the trade deadline after Jordan Shafer failed to pan out as Atlanta had hoped.

Florida Marlins: How absurd would an outfield of Logan Morrison, Chris Young, and Mike Stanton be?  ::shivers::  I personally doubt that CY would be a piece that Florida would look to acquire if they chose to shed off Hanley Ramirez, as the Marlins would probably like to keep their biggest star as they prepare to move into a new ballpark, particularly if they're adding pieces.  However, with Mike Cameron set to be a free agent at the end of the year, the Marlins could use a new center fielder, so Young to Florida would be a fit.

I think the D-backs will avoid Emilio Bonfacio like the plague, as well they should, meaning that a Young-to-Florida move would likely not involve any infield help going to the desert.  That by itself may be enough to squash any possible moves, as the primary hole Arizona has is in its infield, and trading an everyday center fielder without filling a primary hole wouldn't make the most sense in the world.  However, should Arizona be interested in a Young-for-pitching move, Florida has plenty of that.  Between Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco, the Marlins have a pair of quality #2/#3-caliber starters (depending on whether you believe in FIP or ERA) that are both cost-controlled through 2012.

Sanchez, whose peripherals are better but whose ERA is worse, has one remaining year of arbitration that will build off of his $3.7MM salary in 2011, while Nolasco is already signed to a cheap extension, earning $9MM in 2012 and $11.5MM in 2013.  The big question, though, is whether or not either pitcher good enough on his own to be worth Chris Young?  I don't think so, and since the Marlins' relief options aren't particularly enticing, I imagine that a move would have to be centered around not just one, but both starters.  Would a Young and Joe Saunders for Sanchez and Nolasco deal be worth discussing?  Saunders is basically the opposite of what Sanchez has provided the Fish in 2011 - dramatically lower ERA than FIP, unlike Sanchez's 4.00 ERA and 3.21 FIP.

Would Bonifacio, about to enter his first of three arbitration years, be need to be included to make a move worth giving up so many years of cost-controlled CY?  How much value does Bonifacio even have, with a .365 BABIP in 2011 that's sure to regress responsible for much of his 2.1 fWAR?  There are a lot of questions here that would need to be answered before a move could be made, and I don't see the Marlins having the pieces necessary to woo the D-backs into making a trade.

New York Mets: The Mets don't have many positions sorted out, and center field is certainly no exception.  Even if the Mets re-sign Jose Reyes for 2012, they're likely to have just two returning position players who recorded at least 2 fWAR in 2011 - Reyes and Daniel Murphy.  With Jason Bay currently "patrolling" left field for New York, having a center fielder with great instincts and range like CY could really pay dividends should the Mets be interested in a move.  The Mets have a pair of decent first basemen in Murphy and Ike Davis, and could be looking to move one this off-season, but Arizona is likely to hand the reins of its first base job to Paul Goldschmidt.  Perhaps the most intriguing trade possibility is a move of Young for David Wright, the oft-injured third baseman who can still hit the stuffing out of the ball when he's healthy.

Bringing Wright to Arizona would provide a cavalcade of defensive infield worries for the D-backs, as it would require Stephen Drew's ankle to heal perfectly so he can make shortstop adequately, push Ryan Roberts to second base, where he is not quite as sharp as he is at third, and put the defensive mess that is David Wright next to Drew at third.  Additionally, Wright is scheduled to make $15MM in 2012, so an injury to the slugging third baseman would be devastating for a team trying to make a post-season run.  However, there's also the possibility that the D-backs could catch lightning in a bottle by bringing Wright to the desert, and it could easily go down as one of the top two trades in team history (nothing will ever beat Karim Garcia for Luis Gonzalez and cash).  A straight-up deal would be incredibly risky, but I could honestly see it happening from either side of the table.

Philadelphia Phillies: Say what you want about Shane Victorino's string of "All-Star" seasons, the fact of the matter is that he's an above-average regular in center field, playing like an MVP in 2011, and is controlled through 2012.  No dice here.

Washington Nationals: Washington figures to show plenty of interest in CY if he is put on the trade market.  After spending the deadline heavily wrapped-up in rumors for both B.J. Upton and Denard Span, the Nationals left the trade deadline in the same state they entered it - with Rick Ankiel as their everyday center fielder.  Each move the Nationals have made over the last year or so suggests that this is a team that wants to win in 2012, in spite of a few pretty significant roster holes.  However, it's easy to see the pieces in place to have a successful club.

Jayson Werth is likely to be the club's everyday left fielder for the next few years (until his inevitable collapse, which I don't believe has already taken place), with Bryce Harper sliding into right field sometime in 2012.  The infield has three good pieces, with Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, and Danny Espinosa looking like above-average players for the foreseeable future, and Wilson Ramos looks like an above-average everyday backstop.  Even the pitching staff looks promising, with Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg set to lead a rotation that includes solid innings-eaters like Livan Hernandez, Tom Gorzelanny, and John Lannan, with a bullpen headlined by Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Henry Rodriguez.

The two big holes on this team going forward appear to be at shortstop, where Ian Desmond at least provides some above-replacement-level value at minimum salary, and in center field.  Of course, the Nationals would probably have to move a piece from one of their positions of strength, but they have demonstrated a willingness to move Storen and Desmond in the past, and those two would likely at least get the conversation started for a Young trade.

Arizona would need to be confident that Desmond could figure out some of his 2011 issues at the plate in order to consider making this move, but a Shaw/Storen/Hernandez/Putz 6-7-8-9 bullpen tandem for 2012 would really shorten games up for the D-backs starting pitching staff, and could help ease in some of the young starting prospects from the minors.  Arizona would likely require more from the Nationals, particularly in the infield, for this to happen.  Whether or not the Nationals can provide that - perhaps by bringing a third team into the deal - is another question altogether.


AL West:

Los Angeles Angels: The duo of Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout will solidify the Angels' center field for the next half-decade one way or another.

Oakland Athletics: I have no reason to explain this, but Chris Young really seems like the kind of guy that Billy Beane would love to have patrolling his outfield.  The incumbent, Coco Crisp, is set to be a free agent at the end of the year and will cash in after two good, albeit slightly injury-riddled, years in Oakland.  I'm sure the A's will first explore extending Crisp before turning to acquiring CY, but it's certainly an option for the A's.  Infielder Scott Sizemore would be a very nice fit for Arizona at either second base or third base, and Beane turning David Purcey into a piece used to acquire Young would be hailed as one of the heists of the century.  Jemile Weeks could be an interesting choice, but his injury history in the minor leagues has turned me off of him in recent days, particularly as I've come to see just how much value CY should have.

As for the team's pitching, it's probable that Gio Gonzalez would be out of the discussion on CY, although a straight-up Young-for-Gio deal would be one of the most interesting trades I can remember.  It's more likely, though, that either Trevor Cahill or Brett Anderson be put in the discussion.  Cahill is the more safe, known commodity, while Anderson - despite rampant affection among scouts - simply can't stay hurt.  Re-acquiring Anderson could turn into one of the best moves this team has ever made, but it could also end up reminding us of the unfortunate Richie Sexson trade should Anderson never be able to stay healthy enough to reach his potential.  Cahill alone is certainly not worth Chris Young, but a Cahill/Sizemore package gets the conversation rolling at the very least.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners likely thought that they had found their center fielder of the future when Franklin Gutierrez put up a 6.3 fWAR season in 2009 on the strength of what everyone can now see as a flukey 30.9 UZR (note: any UZR above 15 is likely unsustainable).  However, not only has Gutierrez's UZR regressed as expected, down at a still-impressive 12.0 so far in 2011, but his bat has utterly tanked.  After posting a 105 wRC+ in '09, Gutierrez's 2011 wRC+ is less than half of that 2009 figure, sitting at... wait for it.... 44 through his first 247 plate appearances.  Clearly, Seattle could use some center field punch, but with how bad this team is, it's hard to picture them buying in the off-season.

Still, it would be lazy to simply dismiss the Mariners as a trade possibility simply because their team has been awful, because there's a definite need for someone like Young here.  Shortstop Brendan Ryan has been a revelation for the Mariners in a largely lost season, and although he'll make a mere $1.75MM plus performance bonuses in 2012, that is his final year of control before free agency.  Outside of the undoubtedly-untouchable Dustin Ackley, there isn't much else here as far as bats go unless you believe in Justin Smoak as a change-of-scenery guy.

As far as the Mariners' arms are concerned, well... I wouldn't depend on taking a pitcher out of Safeco Field, put him in Chase Field, and having him to be the same guy.  Doug Fister may have been a nice piece, but he is more of a #4 guy than a #3 guy and was just sent to the Tigers at the trade deadline.  It'd be nice to get Michael Pineda, but unfortunately Jack Zduriencik doesn't have the "Force Trade" feature from video games.  With the ever-mediocre Brandon League as the most attractive bullpen piece that could be made available, it doesn't seem that the Mariners have enough pieces to put in a package with Ryan to deal for CY.

Texas Rangers: The center fielder of the future in Texas is newly-signed Cuban defector Leonys Martin, who has made a mockery of the minor-leagues since joining the Rangers organization.  With A cost-controlled Martin in the hand, there's no need for the Rangers to go after a Chris Young in the bush.


AL Central:

Chicago White Sox: Perhaps it's time to utilize the old Kenny Williams trade speed dial?  With the combination of 2011 outfield suck that has been Juan Pierre and Alex Rios, a new outfield centerpiece in Young would make a nice acquisition for the team that originally drafted him if they feel that they can retool and compete in 2012.  The most obvious possible name that could be included in a return is Gordon Beckham, the young, talented second baseman who simply hasn't panned out as expected.  Beckham has been identified as a possible change-of-scenery guy for a couple years running now, and could fill the D-backs' second base hole instantly.  However, Beckham alone is not even remotely close to good value for CY, so more is needed.

The White Sox have numerous young arms that Arizona could have interest in.  John Danks is a quality #3 starter that could be more in the National League, with a final year of arbitration control for 2012 that will build off of his $6MM salary from 2011.  Another option would be to acquire Gavin Floyd, who is a hauntingly similar pitcher to Danks in terms of results and peripheral rates, but is under control for another two years, with a $7MM salary due in 2012 and a $9.5MM option for 2013.  If Arizona doesn't want to rush Jarrod Parker, Trevor Bauer, Wade Miley, or Patrick Corbin into the big-league rotation, an Opening Day quintet of Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Danks/Floyd, Joe Saunders, and Josh Collmenter would be one of the most deep from 1-5 in all of baseball.  Although he's been a nice story in 2011, I personally wouldn't touch Philip Humber with a 20-foot pole.

The White Sox also have a few nice relievers that they could dangle in front of the Diamondbacks in a possible package.  Fireballing closer and former D-back minor-league shortstop Sergio Santos is probably off-limits due to his god-like 1.5 fWAR in 49.2 IP this year, but perhaps Chris Sale could be available as a set-up lefty?  Both Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain are expensive, but they are each on pace to put up season in excess of 1 fWAR, which is solid value for the money they make, and impressive value from any relief pitcher.  In the end, though, I think a package of Beckham and Floyd is the best option available from the White Sox for the D-backs.

Cleveland Indians: This could be an interesting fit, as Grady Sizemore probably belongs in a corner outfield spot in the aftermath of his microfracture knee surgery.  As mentioned in my Kelly Johnson free agency post, the Indians have a young infielder named Cord Phelps currently wallowing away at Triple-A, beating the stuffing out of the ball in the International League.  However, as a C+/B- level prospect, Phelps is a complimentary piece in a deal rather than a centerpiece of a trade.  Fausto Carmona came to mind at first thought, but his numbers in 2011 and career numbers don't stack up to even his first $7MM club option for 2012, not to mention the $9MM option in 2013 and $12MM option in 2014.  The inconsistency he's demonstrated throughout his career is not something the D-backs should bank on, despite his high ground-ball rate.

Michael Brantley could make a good platoon partner for Pollock and a nice insurance policy in the event that Pollock were to prove himself unready for the job.  However, the fact that Brantley has five more years of control, with another full season at minimum salary, means that the Indians will likely try to get sell-high value if the move him, and he doesn't have a solid track record, posting a pair of below-replacement-level seasons prior to 2011.  The best package that the Indians could offer is probably some sort of combination of Phelps, Brantley, and pitching, whether relievers like Vinnie Pestano, Rafael Perez, or Joe Smith, or perhaps a starter, whether Josh Tomlin or Carlos Carrasco.  Carrasco/Tomlin and Phelps could be enough on their own to seal a deal without having Brantley included.

Detroit Tigers: Austin Jackson may have an OBP that flirts with the wrong side of .300, but he's cheap and plays excellent defense.  No trade here.

Kansas City Royals: At some point, I imagine that the Royals will have to give young center fielder Lorenzo Cain a chance at their everyday center field position.  He's cheap, pretty darn good, performed fairly well in Milwaukee prior to this year, and controlled for a long time

Minnesota Twins: The Twins were wrapped up in deadline trade rumors involving their current center fielder - Denard Span - and Nationals closer Drew Storen, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're looking to get rid of Span.  As long as Span in still in the Twin Cities, I see no reason to expect a Young-to-Minny swap.


AL East:

Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore has Adam Jones in center field, who currently sports 3 fWAR through 113 games, although he's been below-average in center field for most of his career.  It's possible that Baltimore could be interested in acquiring Young and moving Jones to a corner, giving them an excellent Jones/Young/Nick Markakis outfield alignment.  However, with Brian Roberts struggling mightily this year, the only big-league return piece that could be a centerpiece of a deal would be J.J. Hardy, whose age - he just turned 33 years old - and new three-year, $22.5MM contract extension could ward off the D-backs.  He's a nice player and a good shortstop, but will he be in his age 35-36 season?  Not to mention, of course, that Hardy just signed that contract with the Orioles, so I doubt Baltimore is in a rush to move him.  I'm going to say that this move is pretty unlikely.

Boston Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury is in the midst of an MVP-caliber season (well, if Jose Bautista didn't exist, he might be).  No need for another good defensive outfielder in that park.

New York Yankees: The Yankees are more than satisfied with their current center fielder, Curtis Granderson, the possessor of 5.2 fWAR through 113 games in 2011.

Tampa Bay Rays: Is it just me, or has the media been telling us that the Rays have been trying to get rid of Upton for the last two years?  Still, despite supposedly strong pursuit from the Washington Nationals, the Rays kept their potential-laden center fielder through another trade deadline, and I personally doubt they're in a rush to move him just to acquire a different center fielder with a similar skill set.  Still, just for the sake of imagining a scenario in which the Upton brothers are on the same team, it's not impossible to imagine a Young for Upton + Young Pitcher deal taking place.  Young's control trumps the elder Upton's one remaining year of arbitration control, so the Rays could make that up with one of their glut of mid-rotation starters.

With six Tampa Bay starters having started at least nine games this year and Matt Moore - who might be better than all of them except for David Price and James Shields - on the way, it's not hard to imagine one of those four lesser starters being sent packing.  Wade Davis makes less than $5MM in each of the next three seasons before beginning a string of three club options, so he's probably not going to get moved even with his steadily declining strikeout rate.  Jeremy Hellickson is in his first full season in the big leagues and performing way above his peripherals, so his value is likely to be astronomical.

For me, the two biggest possibilities are Alex Cobb, who is currently impressing in his first taste in the majors, and Jeff Niemann, who is about to enter arbitration for the first of three times with a 2011 salary of $903k.  Either of them, when packaged with B.J. Upton, could make for an intriguing offer to Kevin Towers.  Neither has been a full-time big-league starter in 2011, though, so I don't see Kevin Towers pulling the trigger on either of those packages.  Perhaps infielder Sean Rodriguez could make the difference between a move taking place or not?  I seriously doubt it (and for the purposes of this post am going to say no deal), but Towers could do a lot worse than B.J. Upton, Alex Cobb, and Sean Rodriguez for CY.

Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto just acquired Colby Rasmus.  While he may be better in a corner, Jose Bautista has a stranglehold on one spot, with a combination of Travis Snider, Edwin Encarnacion, and Eric Thames manning the final spot.  Doesn't look like a fit for Chris Young here, although I wouldn't ever count out Alex Anthopoulos having interest in a quality, controllable player.


To recap, here are the eight teams that Young would represent a good fit (some better than others...) and substantial upgrade for:

- Chicago Cubs

- St. Louis Cardinals

- Florida Marlins

- New York Mets

- Washington Nationals

- Oakland Athletics

- Chicago White Sox

- Cleveland Indians

With this many teams looking like legitimately good fits for a Chris Young trade, I do think that Towers could get a good return if he were to put CY on the market this upcoming off-season.  With much more glaring organizational holes than center field, a bold Towers move - and we know he's willing to make bold moves - could ease the organization's middle-infield concerns for a long time.  The best fits in my mind appear to be the Mets, White Sox, and Indians, with the Nationals as a dark horse if they get desperate for a center fielder and decide to throw some combination of relief pitching and Danny Espinosa - which would almost certainly get a deal done - at Arizona in order to acquire Young.