The Oakland Athletics are one player away from making themselves World Series contenders (although not facing the Tigers might help). That player is Michael Young.
First of all, the A’s need another consistent hitter in their batting order. Last season, the only everyday players who hit above .280 were Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson. For both Lowrie and Donaldson, 2013 was the best season of their careers, by far. It is no guarantee that either of them will repeat last seasons success in 2014. Especially in Donaldson’s case, it will be very difficult, though not impossible, for him to have a season in which he bats .301 with 24 home runs, 93 runs batted in, and 37 doubles. The Athletics need someone who they can count on until Addison Russell finds a home in the Major Leagues.
They can count on Michael Young. At this point in his career, 37 years old, Young isn’t the anchor of a lineup. He won’t take a time capsule back to the prime of his career, during which consistently hit around .315 with double digit home runs and at least 90 RBI. It is more likely that he hits around .280, maybe getting himself to double digit home runs.
Of course, judging by the batting averages of Oakland Athletics’ hitters last season, a .280 average would be excellent. As mentioned before, only Lowrie and Donaldson would have finished with higher batting averages than Michael Young.
If the A’s signed him, Young would likely play second base, his original position. He would be an upgrade hitting-wise over anyone the A’s put at the position, either Eric Sogard, Alberto Callaspo or Nick Punto. Sogard surprised people last season with some consistent hitting of his own, but he lacks the ability to hit with any real power. Callaspo batted fairly well with the A’s last season, but has had ups and downs hitting the ball throughout his career. Punto is best served as a utility man, who can play any infield position but doesn’t hit particularly well.
If the Athletics signed Michael Young, they would seem to have a crowded infield, with four people competing to start at second base. In reality, the infield would not be quite as crowded as is initially seen. Young can play first base as well, giving them a solid backup to Brandon Moss, who is prone to cold spells. DH would also have to be taken into consideration. Either Callaspo or Young could be slotted into the DH position. In any case, all the infielders would at least get decent playing time.
The acquisition of Young would be most influential in the playoffs. They need someone experienced, like Young, who knows how to handle the pressure of the playoffs. Paired with Coco Crisp and the plethora of younger players, he would make the A’s a balanced team in terms of experience.
The New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Brewers have shown interest in Michael Young. The A’s will not want to overpay for a 37-year-old to join an already deep infield.
However, if the A’s have the opportunity to sign Young, they have to capitalize on it.