2016 Fantasy Baseball: Chris Young Signs with the Boston Red Sox
The upper management of the Boston Red Sox has gotten the reputation for being one of the most active and forward thinking front offices in all of baseball the past few years. The organization went from worst to first in 2013, and captured their third World Series title in 10 years by building their ballclub around an abundance of above league-average hitters rather than going out and spending a brunt of their money on a superstar.
While their experiment of trying to piece together a starting rotation with the absence of a true ace may have failed — deciding to have five #3 starters for 2015 instead — the Sox figure to be back in the playoff hunt this coming year. As I stated in my Cooperstown Justice article a couple weeks back, Boston figures to make one last run at a title with David Ortiz, and the club will hope to get other contributions from a healthy Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, and Pablo Sandoval.
The Red Sox are also well positioned in their young talent with switch hitter Blake Swihart behind the plate, AL Silver Slugger Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, and a dynamic outfield consisting of youngsters Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Rusney Castillo. The offense finished the year roughly in the middle of the pack in 2015 (17th overall according to Fangraphs and 4th in runs scored) and figures to improve based on health and an additional year of experience for the team’s youth. Starting pitching remains the big question mark in Boston, and while the Sox figure to be one of the top suitors for free agent pitcher David Price, their most recent move this offseason was one that addressed flexibility more so than overall improvement.
They’ve already traded for Craig Kimbrel, who has collected more saves since debuting in 2010 than any other pitcher in the game at 224, but today, the Red Sox went out and signed an additional outfielder, Chris Young to a multi-year deal. While it may not seem like the kind of big-name splash we’ve come to expect from Boston, the move provides the club with a bevy of options going forward this offseason and into the 2016 regular season.
Mookie Betts had a phenomenal age-22 season with 174 hits, 92 runs, and 21 steals, but the Sox are still unsure exactly what they have in Castillo and Bradley in the outfield. Bradley is the team’s best defensive option in center, but after hitting .354 once earning a starting spot in August, Bradley fell off considerably hitting just .216 the rest of the way out. He figures to slide into more of a platoon role this coming season, which is what makes the Young deal so important.
Young showed flashes of his Diamondback days with the Yankees last season and had an OPS well above league average at .779. He slashed .327/.397/.575 with seven homers against lefties, showing he can handle a platoon role, and he can also play some centerfield in a pinch as he did in New York. In addition to lineup flexibility, the move also gives the Red Sox the option to move one of those three aforementioned young outfielders if it could help tighten up that starting rotation. Any one of the three would bring back a good arm in return, and although the club is expected to hang on to Betts in particular, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Betts gets moved if the Sox are blown away with a trade offer. The Red Sox also have super-utility man Brock Holt who was an all-star in 2015 and would be more than a serviceable fourth outfielder if they need to make another deal.
In terms of fantasy, Chris Young could be a bit of a sleeper pick-up for a bench spot or for a thin outfield. Young’s overall OPS+ was 122 in New York which shows his pop was not regulated to the confines of the hitter friendly Yankee Stadium. Park-effects will only help his overall production with the move to Boston, as he’s shown he’s a dead-pull hitter with the ideal swing for peppering balls off the Green Monster at Fenway. If you can snag Chris Young off the waiver wire, or with a very late round pick, he could provide quite a bit of value if used the right way.