Tag: Chris Young (OF)

Chris Young Has Been the New York Mets’ Best Free-Agent Signing so Far

The New York Mets were very active in the free-agent market this past winter, especially compared to the types of acquisitions they made in previous years.

There are varying opinions as to whether general manager Sandy Alderson did enough to make the “Amazins” a playoff contender in 2014.

The first move he made was signing outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million contract. This signing puzzled some while looking at his recent statistics and a high propensity to strike out.

Those moves were followed with inking Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million deal, along with Bartolo Colon’s two-year, $20 million pact.

Granderson looks to be breaking out of his early-season slump but still has work to do with the .175/.280/.289 line he owns in 114 at-bats.

Two of Colon’s seven starts are why his season statistics don’t look great, but the Mets were hoping for better than a 2-5 record with a 5.36 ERA and 1.37 WHIP through his first 43.2 innings.

Once Young’s deal was official, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs said this would be one of the best bargains of the entire winter. So far, he’s been producing.

Young’s season was delayed because of a quad injury, landing him on the disabled list for the first two weeks. Through 61 at-bats, he’s hitting .246/.313/.410 with two home runs and nine RBI.

Prior to going hitless in his last six at-bats, Young’s average was as high as .273, and he could easily have two or three more home runs, but he’s been robbed by opposing outfielders.

Signing Granderson garnered more attention. There are multiple reasons for this, but mostly because he’s expected to be the main protection in the lineup for David Wright.

Getting close to the middle of May, the Mets are one of the worst in baseball with regard to power, posting a .332 slugging percentage, including 20 home runs.

Young’s still striking out 19.4 percent of the time, but that’s the lowest it’s been since he posted a 21.1 percent K-rate in 2011 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

He’s hitting line drives at a rate of 18.8 percent, which isn’t much different than his career mark (18.6 percent). However, he’s cut down on the amount of fly balls he’s hitting. The 0.86 ground ball/fly ball ratio is the highest it’s been since it was 0.89 in 2008.

These improvements are part of the reason his .283 BABIP is the best it’s been since he was an All-Star for Arizona in 2010.

With a desire to be more consistent, Young received hands-on training from Hall of Famer Rod Carew. His changes in approach and selectivity at the plate look to be direct causes for this production.

Comparing to his 2013 season with the Oakland A’s, he’s swinging considerably less at pitches outside of the strike zone (28.3 percent in ’13 to 23.4 percent in ’14). He’s also pursuing more balls inside the strike zone (61.2 percent in ’13 to 63.6 percent in ’14).

Swinging at better pitches more frequently is leading to an increase in consistent and solid contact, likely why he’s keeping the ball out of the air better than in recent years.

The pitching staff will clearly need to carry the Mets if they plan on being successful this year. There’s hope the offense will end up improving from 2013, but that’s no guarantee. If the pitching—specifically the starting rotation—continues performing at its current level, situational hitting will become crucial.

Wright and Granderson have slowly started regaining their respective power strokes. Daniel Murphy is also on a hot streak, hitting .349 over his last 10 games. If Travis d’Arnaud and Lucas Duda can find some kind of consistency, Young becomes the X-factor.

His production in the middle of the lineup would instantly make it much deeper and more intimidating. If Wilmer Flores brings offense to the shortstop position, then they may not be as bad as we currently think they’ll be over the course of the entire year.

The front office was criticized for signing Young, but of the three major acquisitions made this past winter, he’s actually been the most consistent.

If New York hopes to be in playoff contention by the end of the summer, every player on the roster must produce at their career norms.

However, the overall success of the offense may very well lie in the hands of Young. Acquiring Granderson will hopefully replace the production lost from Marlon Byrd. If C.Y. can add more on top of that, it could be enough to put New York in the conversation for the final wild-card spot.


Team statistics sourced from MLB.com. Contract information sourced from Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Advanced player statistics sourced from FanGraphs.

Matt’s baseball opinions have been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, Yahoo! Sports, MetsBlog, Amazin‘ Avenue and Mets Merized Online. To keep up with Matt, you can follow him on Twitter.

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Grading New York Mets’ Moves so Far This Offseason

The New York Mets have been pretty active in free agency this winter. Despite that Matt Harvey will miss the 2014 MLB season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Sandy Alderson and the front office are moving ahead with their plan of infusing this roster with productive players to be competitive.

It’s been a painstaking process watching Alderson maneuver his way through the offseason since he joined the organization. Heading into this winter, the biggest free-agent signing he made was bringing in Frank Francisco on a two-year, $12 million deal.

Alderson has changed his tune, keeping his promise that money coming off the books from bad contracts would be reinvested in the major league roster. Not all of the money from the Johan Santana and Jason Bay savings has been spent yet, but New York is showing its willingness to once again hand out multi-year contracts.

Let’s take a look at New York’s report card with the moves it has made so far this offseason.


Statistics and advanced metrics from Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, respectively. Contract information from Cot’s Baseball Contracts. All transactions sourced from Mets.com unless otherwise noted.

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The New York Mets Signing Chris Young Will Turn out Just Fine

So, we woke up this morning and the New York Mets did something. That was new. They signed free-agent outfielder Chris Young to a one-year deal worth $7.2 million. It’s a little weird, but let’s talk this through before we react.

Young struggled through a down year with the Oakland A’s last year, hitting at just a .200 clip, striking out a ton, and playing kinda crappy defense. FanGraphs had his 2013 UZR at 0.2 with negative-six defensive runs saved.

His lowest single-season batting average was, as you’d imagine, a product of his lowest single-season BABIP. That mark was a sad .237—but it’s easy to see why when you take a look at some batted-ball numbers. Young’s infield fly ball percentage was nearly five percentage points higher than in 2012, and that makes sense considering the ballpark he played in. Using super-advanced Photoshop skills, here’s a comparison of infield pastures between O.co Coliseum—or whatever you’d like to call it—and Citi Field.

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So yeah, you can predict that Young probably won’t pop out as much.

On the down side, he struck out a ton last season, K-ing in nearly 25 percent of his plate appearances. That was bad. Between the strikeouts and pop flies, Young’s on-base clip was .280, which goes against pretty much everything general manager Sandy Alderson wants.

That OBP being significantly higher than his .200 AVG is pretty encouraging though, again alluding back to the projected drop-off in infield flies. As long as Young manages to strike out a little less often in 2014, it’d be reasonable to except that BABIP to creep back toward his .274 career average. If the Mets can get, say, a .245/.330/.430-type line from Young at the bottom of their order, that’s a lot better than the scraps they’d be running out in right field without him.

The Mets obviously have a need for both corner outfield spots, and Young fills one. You’d presume they’ll try and build the outfield with Juan Lagares planted in center. Lagares posted a crazy 28 DRS last season in just over 900 innings, roughly 400 and 300 less than outfield leaders Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gomez. Young will probably be slotted into right, according to Adam Rubin. Prior to last season, Young had no MLB experience at either corner, but he played 26 games in right and 24 in left for the A’s. At the moment, Eric Young Jr. (this will probably get confusing) is penciled in, starting in left.

The $7.2 million salary is questionable, but it’s not a long-term handicap, as it expires after this season. It seems like an overpay, but at a certain point, if everybody is getting overpaid, maybe that’s just the way of the market in 2013. With Matt Harvey down until 2015, that’s when the Mets are building toward. Young has the potential to be a solid starter in right, and if not, his career .262 average against lefties—compared to .225 against right-handers—makes him a platoon candidate, with Matt den Dekker as a possible partner.

With Lagares able to cover plenty of ground, Young won’t need to be spectacular with the glove, but the Mets will hope for an improvement from 2013, when he finished 264th out of 299 qualified outfielders in runs saved.

The value is questionable, but Alderson needed a corner outfielder and wasn’t going to get anyone else of worth on a one-year pact. The deal makes for a good trial run for the 30-year-old Young, who’ll need to prove that he can be worth significant free-agent consideration next year.

If it works out, it’s a win for both sides. The Mets will get 2014 outfield help and Young will garner a multi-year deal from somebody next winter. If the deal blows up in Sandy’s face? Oh well. That $7 million is off the books immediately and they can try again next winter.

With one corner down, Alderson still needs a power-hitting bat to line up in left, which will more than likely be acquired via trade.

The Mets have Daniel Murphy and one of the Ike Davis/Lucas Duda pu pu platoon to dangle as major-league bats, along with one of Jon Niese or Jenrry Mejia and a glut of prospect arms. If Murphy is dealt, E.Y. Jr. or Wilmer Flores could presumably slide in at second base full time, and the remaining of Davis or Duda (or possibly even Josh Satin?) would take the first base job.

Meanwhile, the team still has no suitable shortstop anywhere in the system, which is…err…less than ideal. New York is also still looking to add a starter or two, so keep an eye on guys like Phil Hughes and Bronson Arroyo as potential Mets in the coming weeks.

Alderson has his work cut out for him, especially with the pitiful budget he’s being allocated this winter, but the Young addition is a decent move to get the ball rolling.

Follow me on Twitter at @JSDorn6.

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Can Chris Young Resurrect His Sagging Career with New York Mets?

For New York Mets fans, it’s been a difficult run of futility, especially during the hot stove season. While rebuilding and retooling can be justified by any rational fan, the lack of big-market activity by general manager Sandy Alderson has been alarming over the last few years.

On Friday morning, the Mets made a move to bolster their outfield, but a vocal portion of fans haven’t been able to separate the present and future when breaking down the deal. According to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, former Diamondbacks and Athletics outfielder Chris Young is on his way to New York

When first glancing at Young’s 2013 numbers, it’s easy to understand the lack of excitement at a player that will cost $7.25 million, per the New York Daily News. This past season, Young posted an 85 OPS+ in 375 plate appearances for Oakland.

Yet, after taking a look at the 30-year-old outfielder heading to New York, Mets fans should be excited for a player poised to resurrect his once promising career. 

Before we dive into why Young is ready to reemerge in 2014, let’s look at the type of player he was before a disappointing season in Oakland, the level he could return to next year and where he ranked among the top outfielders in baseball during his best days.

When at his best, Young is a rare player. Few outfielders possess the ability to hit 30 home runs, steal 25 bases and play top-tier defense. During three separate seasons (2007, 2010, 2011) in Young’s career, he’s been at least a 20/20 (20 home runs, 20 stolen bases) offensive player. During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Young’s glove was good enough to account for 38 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in Arizona. 

The following charts illustrate just how prolific Chris Young was when at his best. The fact that he’s coming off a poor year in Oakland makes him a perfect buy-low for the New York Mets. Without the budget or willingness to splurge on lucrative, long-term deals, the front office in Flushing, Queens, led by Sandy Alderson, is forced to search for bargains. At the age of 30, Young is still young enough to repeat or exceed past performances.  

As you can see, Young’s power-speed combination is rare. Since 2007, only Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp, the top two finishers on the 2011 NL MVP ballot, have profiled as better power-speed combinations among outfielders.

Furthermore, the names below Young on the chart, Alex Rios and B.J Upton, both signed contracts in excess of $69 million during their respective careers. On a one-year, $7.25 contract, the Mets are receiving a player with a skill set that has been paid between $69 and $160 million. 

When factoring in WAR, Young’s defensive prowess puts him above many star outfielders in Major League Baseball. From 2010-2012, the three years prior to Young’s awful 2013, he profiled as one of the 12 most valuable outfielders in baseball. Among the names behind him on that list: Shin-Soo Choo, Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Upton and Hunter Pence. 

If Young can experience a career resurgence, the Mets will be rewarded with one of the more valuable outfielders in all of baseball.

It’s abundantly clear that Young has been a versatile and excellent player during the bulk of his career, but neither of those accolades are enough to predict an upswing in performance for the Mets during the 2014 season. Instead, we can look to the poor luck experienced in Oakland as a reason for his revival. 

As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs pointed out when discussing the bargain deal the Mets just shopped for, Young’s 2013 season was hurt by a well below-average BABIP (batting average on balls in play). As Cameron discusses, Young was basically the same hitter in 2013 as he was in his good years, but he suffered from an inordinate amount of bad luck on batted balls. Per Cameron’s thoughts:

None of that changed last year. He still hit for power, drew walks, struck out, and hit fly balls. However, he posted a .237 BABIP that was the lowest of his career, so his wRC+ fell from 98 to 82. Other than that, he was basically the same hitter he’s always been, and while BABIP for hitters isn’t entirely random, there’s no reason to expect him to sustain a career low. Steamer projects him to post a .269 BABIP in 2014, a little below his career average, and that bump would push him right back to league average hitter status.

The final thought is key. After a difficult 2013, it won’t take much more than better luck to return Young to being a league average player. At the age of 30, it’s hard to believe his defense and speed have disappeared. Thus, an uptick in luck at the plate, combined with good defense, potentially in a corner outfield spot in New York, and 20-plus stolen bases, can put Young back in the category of rare outfielders that he profiled as during his time in Arizona. 

Frustration from Mets fans is easy to understand, but the road back to contention doesn’t have to be littered with big names. Young, even on a reasonable deal, will take up a significant chunk of the organization’s offseason budget. If he produces, it will be a boon. If he doesn’t, more despair will emanate from Citi Field. 

Transcendent talents cost over $100 million to secure. Young isn‘t that good, and likely never will be, but he does possess some of the same skills as comparable players that got paid on that level. By mid-summer, he could become underpaid and highly valuable member of an improved Mets team.

Agree? Disagree? 

Comment below, follow me on Twitter or “like” my Facebook page to talk all things baseball.

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Chris Young Reportedly Signs 1-Year, $7.25 Million Deal with New York Mets

The New York Mets made a move to bolster their questionable outfield on Friday, as they agreed to terms with free agent Chris B. Young, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Not to be confused with former Mets pitcher Chris R. Young, who signed a minor-league deal with the Washington Nationals this offseason, Young is an eight-year veteran known for his combination of power at the plate and speed on the bases.

He was a part-time player for the Oakland Athletics this past season who contributed a .200 batting average, 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 335 at-bats. He spent the first seven years of his MLB career with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Young’s tenure with the D-Backs was a roller-coaster ride as he experienced wild swings in play. At times he looked like he could be an elite player, as evidenced by his first and only All-Star nod in 2010. When the home runs and stolen bases weren’t coming, though, he was often a liability.

The 30-year-old native of Houston, Texas is capable of playing all three outfield positions, and he should serve as a fantastic fourth outfielder, if nothing else. 

Although the Mets will pay him $7.25 million in 2013, that doesn’t guarantee that manager Terry Collins will give him regular playing time. Youngsters such as Matt den Dekker, Juan Lagares and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are champing at the bit to earn a spot in the lineup, while holdovers like Eric Young and Lucas Duda will factor in as well.

Young has twice clubbed 27 or more homers in a season, and he has stolen 22 or more bags in a year three times. His biggest issue is an inability to get on base regularly. He set career highs in batting average (.257) and on-base percentage (.341) in 2010, but he hasn’t approached those numbers since.

The spacious Citi Field likely won’t help Young restore his power numbers in 2013, but there is no question that he adds some depth to what promises to be a muddled outfield situation.


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One Quick Roster Fix for Six MLB Contenders

It’s highly doubtful that any minor league player is going to have the type of impact Mike Trout had on the Los Angeles Angels when he joined the team in late April of last year and went to have one of the best rookie season’s ever (.326 BA, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 129 R, 49 SB). His team went 83-59 the rest of the way.

It’s also unlikely that any trade acquisition will have the same impact that Fred McGriff had on the 1993 Atlanta Braves when he came over from the Padres and played a huge part (.310 BA, 19 HR, 55 RBI in 68 games) in the team’s 51-17 finish and memorable late-season overtaking of the San Francisco Giants for the NL West title.  

Still, it’s worth trying to find that spark to get a team headed in the right direction. Here’s one quick-fix idea for six contenders.  

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Oakland Athletics: Is It Realistic to Expect a Playoff Run in 2013?

Last year, the Oakland A’s went on a run for the ages, and they almost snuck into the ALCS.

The A’s won their last six regular season games to stunningly capture the AL West, before rallying from down 2-0 to force Game 5 of the ALDS. They lost Game 5, but it let Oakland experience a run for the ages.

However, the A’s haven’t done much in the offseason. They signed Hiroyuki Nakajima from Japan, but only to replace Stephen Drew. They re-signed Bartolo Colon and traded for Chris Young, but that’s really been it.

Oakland isn’t expected to do as well in 2013 because of their lack of big names. However, the offensive went on a home run spree in the second half, and while Brandon Moss won’t be smashing 21 homers in 265 at-bats, he, Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes could provide pop for the middle of the lineup.

Crisp and Nakajima will likely be table-setters, while Young will be relied on to provide pop from the bottom of the order. The offense looks fine right now, because they were in the top half of the league in runs scored. And, the pitching staff will look to protect that.

A good season may not be realistic to expect from Travis Blackley, but Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone can only be better in their second season. Brett Anderson finished the 2012 season with a bang, and Colon did a good job before being suspended for steroid use. So, the pitching staff has talent, and they can be one of the league’s best.

Factor in a mean bullpen with Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour and you have a good team. Unfortunately for the A’s, a complete team just isn’t enough.

On paper, the Rangers, Angels, Blue Jays, Tigers, Red Sox and Yankees all look more talented than the A’s. Texas has Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus on the offense and Matt Harrison and Derek Holland on the pitching staff, and the Angels have Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver and others.

Both are in the division, and if games were won on paper, Oakland would finish third. However, they pride themselves on being a resilient team which doesn’t win games on paper, and they are wound up around the middle of the pack in the AL.

Baseball is about getting hot at the right time, but in a 162 game season, the best teams almost always find their way into the postseason. The A’s have some talent, but there are still question marks in the pitching staff. Teams like the Angels and Blue Jays are fine with the pitching staff, as the Blue Jays practically have a new team due to some offseason spending and dealing.

Detroit didn’t dominate Oakland, although they would have won the ALDS in four games with a better closer. Justin Verlander overwhelmed the A’s and Yankees, while Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez did the same to all three teams that Detroit faced in the playoffs.

Even though baseball is unpredictable, it won’t be easy for the A’s to sneak into the playoffs. The AL is great this year, and it will be harder than ever to win the AL West. Even if they do make the playoffs as a Wild Card, they will be down to a one game playoff without a true ace (yet).

Oakland is definitely a talented team, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they reached into their bag of tricks and pulled out more magic to find their way to the playoffs. But they are still unproven, and there are question marks. With all the talent around them in the AL West and the AL in general, I’m not seeing them in the playoffs.

The only thing that I think could get them into the playoffs is some more magic, which the A’s sure know how to provide. 

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Justin Upton Still with Arizona Diamondbacks After Chris Young Trade

Well, we have our first real official trade of the offseason.

The Diamondbacks didn’t waste any time opening up their outfield logjam today, trading Chris Young to the Oakland A’s as part of a three-team trade involving the Miami Marlins, as reported by MLB.com.

This might cut down on the rumors of Justin Upton being traded this offseason, or this might cause the trade fires to burn more brightly.

Many things stand out from this trade.

Looking at it from the Arizona perspective, Justin Upton may not be going anywhere after all.

This trade opens CF for prospect Adam Eaton to take over and bat leadoff. Upton can continue in RF, and the D’Backs are then left to decide whether to go with offense (Jason Kubel) or defense (Gerardo Parra) in left field.  

By trading Young and taking back Heath Bell, the Diamondbacks are saving about $3 million in salary according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, which they can redirect to other areas. The Marlins are paying about $8 million of Bell’s remaining contract, making Bell (at $6.5 million per year) a valuable commodity if he can regain his All-Star form.

Arizona will also receive 28-year-old SS Cliff Pennington from Oakland. Pennington will likely factor into the D’Backs shortstop mix for the 2013 season. Pennington had a poor regular season for Oakland but was excellent during the playoffs this past year.



From the Miami perspective, according to mlbtraderumors, it looks to be a salary dump by the Marlins for a player that was touted last winter as a key piece coming into Miami. Bell had a terrible year in 2012, pitching to a 5.09 ERA, and he had only 19 saves. But in his prior three seasons in San Diego, he recorded over 40 saves each year. With how volatile the reliever and closer market is, he could easily regain his form in 2013 and have real value.

The other aspect from the Marlins side is the indication that Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen may return for the 2013 season. Bell and Guillen clashed last season, and Bell was one of Guillen’s most vocal critics, so by removing Bell it may signal that the Marlins are going to give Guillen one more season to turn things around. Miami did receive a prospect in the deal, but it looks to be mostly clearing salary and cleaning out the clubhouse.

The Oakland A’s side is very interesting. By trading for Chris Young, the A’s will have four quality outfielders under contract for 2013. Arizona only kicked $500K into the deal, meaning that Young will cost Oakland $8 million next season.

Do the A’s sell high on Josh Reddick, who struggled down the stretch in 2012? Does Oakland plan on rotating all of the outfielders through the DH position? Is Coco Crisp trade bait all of a sudden?

A’s manager Bob Melvin used to be Young’s manager in Arizona, during which time Young had two of his best seasons. Maybe Young can be a productive player again for Melvin in Oakland.

The MLB hot stove has started already. Great news for everyone looking ahead to next season.

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4 Reasons the Oakland A’s Are Big Winner in 3-Team Heath Bell Trade

In a three-team trade announced by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Oakland Athletics came up huge in this offseason’s first large trade.

And to think, it isn’t even technically the offseason yet.

Here are the details: The Oakland A’s received outfielder Chris Young from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for converted-second baseman Cliff Pennington and prospect Yordy Cabrera. The D-Backs then sent Cabrera to the Miami Marlins for closer Heath Bell.

Arizona gets a pitcher and an infielder, Miami a prospect and Oakland an outfielder.

The trade is arguably a fantastic move for all three organizations. Each team fills a particular need, and at what is hoped to be a low cost. But it’s the ages, talent and worth of all four men involved that places the A’s in the winner’s circle of this trade.

Here are four reasons for that designation. 

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Oakland A’s Acquire Arizona OF Chris Young for Cliff Pennington

According to a report from MLBTradeRumors.com and breaking news from AzCentral.com, the Oakland A’s have acquired Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young and cash in a trade that sends Cliff Pennington and disgruntled closer Heath Bell to Arizona by way of the Miami Marlins

Young posted a disappointing slash line of .231/.311/.434 in 101 games in 2012 for Arizona. The 2010 All-Star was slowed by a shoulder injury he sustained slamming into the left field wall at Chase Field. The injury ruined a hot start that saw him hit five home runs and register a 1.397 OPS in the first 11 games. On the year, Young wound up with 14 home runs and 41 RBI.

The trade brings Pennington’s five-year career with Oakland to an end. A career .249 hitter, Pennington struggled for much of 2012, hitting a career-low .215 with six home runs and 28 RBI. His versatility came in handy after Oakland acquired Stephen Drew from Arizona as he moved from shortstop to second base. 

Bell, who grew disenchanted with his role in Miami, likely will get another chance to close in Arizona. The former All-Star struggled in his only year with the Marlins, posting a 5.09 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 73 appearances. In return, the Marlins will receive A’s infield prospect Yordy Cabrera, who was initially dealt to Arizona in the Young trade.

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