Tigers Acquire Delmon Young From Division Rivals

The Deal
The Twins traded underachieving left fielder Delmon Young to the Tigers, thus saving more than $1 million for the remainder of the season and avoiding the difficult offseason decision of whether to tender him a contract for 2012. Detroit sent high Class A lefty Cole Nelson and a player to be named to Minnesota. A Twins press release said the PTBN will be announced on or before Oct. 15.

UPDATE: The Twins and Tigers settled the player to be named matter quickly. One day after the trade, on Aug. 16, Detroit shipped righthanded reliever Lester Oliveros to Minnesota.

Still just 25, Young has batted a fairly pedestrian .287/.324/.429 in four years with the Twins, never refining his batting approach enough to unlock his power or get on base more frequently. That’s a shame because Minnesota surrendered Matt Garza (and two others) to acquire Young following the 2007 season. As for Detroit, they continued their recent trend of trading for position players from American League Central rivals, perhaps because the big league coaching staff gets longer looks at those players (or because they’re still sore at the Orioles for Aubrey Huff’s performance down the stretch in 2009). The Tigers’ offensive upgrades during the past two seasons consist of Young (Twins) and Wilson Betemit (Royals) this season and Jhonny Peralta (Indians) in 2010.

 
Twins Acquire
Lester Oliveros, rhp
Age: 23.
Born: May 28, 1988 in Maracay, Venezuela.
Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 225. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Tigers, Oct. 25, 2005.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Erie (EL) AA 2 0 0.53 10 0 0 17 11 1 1 0 4 28 0.88
Toledo (IL) AAA 1 3 6.43 22 0 5 28 37 20 20 7 17 26 1.93
Detroit (AL) MLB 0 0 5.63 9 0 0 8 8 5 5 0 4 4 1.50
Minor League Total 3 3 4.20 32 0 5 45 48 21 21 7 21 54 1.53

Oliveros was practically untouchable with Erie at the outset of the season, but his performance regressed steadily in subsequent months. Things went so poorly with Toledo and Detroit that Oliveros, prior to the trade to Minnesota, found himself right back where he began the year, in Double-A. In his first tour of duty with the SeaWolves he allowed nine hits and only one run in 16 innings, while striking out 27 of the 59 batters he faced—a robust 46 percent—including six of the eight he faced on May 4. Oliveros ranges from 90-96 mph with his fastball, but he doesn’t do it easy. He gets good separation on an 80 mph sinking changeup, but when combined with the lackluster control Oliveros showed at higher levels, lefthanded batters at Triple-A (1.148 OPS in 49 PAs) and in the big leagues (.688 OPS in 16 PAs) had little trouble squaring him up. He rarely throws his low-80s, early-breaking slurve. Oliveros’ future lies in middle relief, and the Twins can deploy him for three seasons in the big leagues before they have to worry about paying arbitration prices for his services. They also hold two option years.

 
Cole Nelson, lhp
Age: 22.
Born: July 14, 1989 in Edina, Minn.
Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 233. Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: Auburn.
Career Transactions: Selected by Tigers in 10th round of 2010 draft; signed July 8, 2010.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Lakeland (FSL) HiA 5 11 4.87 26 17 0 105.1 123 65 57 6 50 87 1.64

A Minnesota high school product whom the Tigers drafted out of Auburn, Nelson benefited from a mechanical tweak implemented after he signed for $90,000 as a 10th-rounder. Detroit lengthened his stride and raised his arm slot, helping Nelson to realize higher peak velocity—up to 95 mph. He sits more in the 92 range with sinking and tailing action, but the ball gets on batters quickly because of his extra-large, 6-foot-7 frame. Nelson isn’t especially graceful, so he struggles to repeat his delivery and release point. His changeup is rudimentary at this stage, though he does vary the speed and shape of his breaking ball depending on whether he’s facing a lefthanded (slurve with lateral break) or righthanded (more vertical break) batter. The Tigers shifted Nelson to the Lakeland bullpen in mid-July after he went 4-10, 5.36 through 17 starts with a 68-to-46 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 87 1/3 innings.

 
Tigers Acquire
Delmon Young, lf
Age: 25. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $1.3 million ($5.375 million salary for 2011; under club control for 2012 season).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Minnesota (AL) 2011 .266 84 305 26 81 16 0 4 32 18 55 1 .305 .357
3-Year Totals .286 345 1270 153 363 78 3 37 204 58 228 8 .318 .439

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