By John Manuel
December 11, 2001
BOSTON–Most observers expected the Reds to trade Dmitri Young at the Winter Meetings, but few would have picked Detroit as the destination.
The Tigers acquired the 28-year-old outfielder, who also can play first base, from Cincinnati for outfielder Juan Encarnacion and righthander Luis Pineda. Young is arbitration eligible and will be a free agent after the 2002 season, and the Reds were not looking forward to paying him a likely $5 million salary.
“We feel Dmitri will provide a much-needed bat that’s tailor made for our ballpark,” said Tigers general manager Randy Smith. “He’s posted excellent numbers in interleague games versus AL Central teams and will help our offense immediately while giving Phil versatility defensively.”
Young, who reportedly wasn’t thrilled with the deal, batted .302-21-69 in 2001, reaching a career high in home runs and lifting his career batting average in 656 big league games to .297. However, Encarnacion takes his place in the Reds’ muddled outfield picture, joining a group that includes Griffey, Adam Dunn and minor leaguers Austin Kearns, Ruben Mateo and Wily Mo Pena.
“One of my favorite trades was getting Dmitri from the Cardinals,” Reds general manager Jim Bowden said. “Dmitri plays the game the way it is meant to be played. He is a hard-nosed player who will be missed on and off the field. It is unfortunate that the current state of the industry is forcing small- and mid-market teams to make such difficult decisions. With the combination of Dmitri’s arbitration-eligible status and his impending free agency, we felt that this was a deal we had to make.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported a deal sending Young to the Braves for righthander Kevin Millwood fell through because of financial considerations.
Encarnacion, 25, is a former Tigers No. 1 prospect whose lack of plate discipline has hindered his talents in the big leagues. He hit.242-12-52 in 2001, all career lows, drew 25 walks and struck out 93 times in 417 at-bats.
Pineda, 23, was the Tigers’ No. 28 prospect entering the year and finished the season with the Tigers. Pineda went 6-2, 3.05 in 85 2/3 innings for Double-A Erie, giving up 68 hits and 28 walks while striking out 92. He pitched 16 games, starting 12, then pitched eight shutout innings at Triple-A Toledo and pitched 18 innings in relief with the Tigers. He walked 14 and gave up 16 hits in Detroit, posting a 0-1, 4.91 record.
Pineda has an explosive fastball that has reached 98 mph and has a power slider and curveball. The 6-foot-1, 160-pounder has been released twice in his career, by the Rangers in 1997 and the Diamondbacks in 1998.