After the Boston Red Sox traded for Craig Kimbrel, there weren’t many holes left on the team. However, one that was glaring was the fourth outfielder spot. Justin Gorman examines Chris Young and the role that he’ll have with his new team.
In an offseason already replete with speculation, the Red Sox and 32-year old outfielder Chris Young have agreed to terms on a two-year contract, pending a physical. Young has a .235 batting average over 8+ big league seasons. The 2010 National League All-Star has spent most of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, with short stints with the A’s, Mets, and most recently, the Yankees, where he put up a line of .252/.320/.453 and an OPS+ of 112 in 2015.
The Sox are well-known to have a very youthful and capable outfield corps of Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and Rusney Castillo heading into the 2016 season. Presuming the rumors are true and Young is signing a multi-year deal, this will add to the speculation that new General Manager Dave Dombrowski may be angling to trade one of his three young outfielders.
If, in fact, the plan is to use Young as a reserve outfielder to mentor the… young outfield, then they have certainly found a veteran who could fit that bill. He provides the Red Sox with what could be described as half an established veteran hitter, as he really has no business facing a right-handed pitcher. He has been solid against left-handed pitching in his career, sporting a .263/.362/.474 line, while dismal against righties, .224/.293/.411. Young seems to see left-handed pitching much better, with a 0.69 BB/K rate in 1406 plate appearances, a stark contrast to the 0.35 BB/K rate in 3279 PAs against righties.
Young used to be a centerfielder, with the speed to back that up. However, these days he will likely serve best as a platoon corner outfielder for Boston, preferably in left field. It will be interesting to see if this signing is the harbinger to a blockbuster deal involving one of the presumptive 2016 starting outfielders, but until and unless that happens, the Sox certainly have added a capable bat off the bench going into next season.