The Baltimore Orioles made minor news on Monday with their signing of once heralded outfielder Delmon Young to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. According to Jon Heyman, the 28-year-old also has the potential to obtain a $1 million base salary were he to make the big league roster. The deal also included a package of incentives that could total $750,000.
Nearly eight years ago, Young was considered the top prospect in baseball by many, with the potential to be a future star. Drafted first overall in the 2003 draft by the then fledgling Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Young reached the big leagues in 2006 at the age of 20. In 2007, his first and only full season with Tampa, Young played in all 162 games, hitting a sub-par .288/.316/.408 (91 OPS+, 0.9 WAR). Of course, the traditional stats told a different story, as Young was able to mash 38 doubles, 13 home runs, and 93 RBIs, the latter of which played a significant role in his second place finish in that year's Rookie of the Year balloting.
With trouble already beginning to brew with the young phenom, the Rays shipped him off to the Minnesota Twins for a package consisting of shortstop Jason Bartlett and starting pitcher Matt Garza. As we know now, that trade would play a major role in the Ray's miracle 2008 run to the World Series.
Just 22 at the time of the trade, Young proceeded to post back-to-back uninspiring seasons (97 OPS+) before breaking out with the bat in 2010. That year, he would hit .298/.333/.493 (124 OPS+) with 46 doubles, 21 home runs, and 112 RBIs. Yet, despite his offensive progress, Young was still an obvious liability in the field as his -1.9 dWAR in 2010 brought his WAR total down that season to a merely average 1.6 mark.
Young would be traded to the Detroit Tigers in August of 2011, where he would play for one and a half lackluster seasons. Last offseason, Young signed with the Phillies, where he hit just .261/.302/.397 in 291 plate appearances before being released in August. He quickly signed with the Rays, where he was actually quite solid (117 OPS+ in 70 PA's), albeit in a limited span.
The likelihood of Young making an impact with Baltimore this season is negligible. With Adam Jones and Nick Markakis entrenched in center and right field, respectively, the Orioles really only have one open outfield spot, and Young will have numerous competitors for the job in David Lough, Quintin Berry, Francisco Peguero, Xavier Paul, and Henry Urrutia.