Sometimes it’s shocking while watching a baseball game to hear that a player was once upon a time with a totally different franchise. Michael Young is one of those types of players. Many people would be shocked to learn that he was, in fact drafted by the Jays, but he was also traded away before the Jays knew what they had.
Michael Young is best known as a great fielding, amazing hitting shortstop with the Texas Rangers. But before that, he was a prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system
. He was a fifth round selection by the Jays in the 1997 MLB draft. That was actually the second time he was drafted, as he was the 25th round selection of the Baltimore Orioles in the 1994 draft, coming out of high school, but he didn’t sign.
This is what the trade looks like:
July 19, 2000
To Toronto: Esteban Loaiza, RHP
Cubillan was never a really great pitcher in his career. He spent his entire major league career as a reliever, never making a start in his 3 years. In the 2000 season, he pitched in seven games with an 8.04 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 15.2 innings with Toronto. With Texas, he had a horrible 10.70 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. The next season, he was traded in May to the Montreal Expos. That season with the Expos was his best as he had a 4.10 ERA in 29 games and 19 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.
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The phrase “hindsight is 20/20” works all too well in the case of Michael Young. Toronto traded him before they really knew what they had. All they had in him was a future seven time All-Star, one time Gold Glover, and a two-time top-ten MVP finisher. He never played in the MLB for Toronto before they traded him. His rookie season came in 2001, and had a .249 batting average, 11 home runs, and 49 RBIs. It took a few years, but in 2005 he had a league leading .331 average, 24 home runs, and 91 RBIs. He was eventually traded to Philadelphia, and then the L.A. Dodgers.
Loaiza was the only player Toronto got back in this lopsided trade. The Jays did seem to need the help in the rotation, with three of the starters sporting ERA’s over 4.90 at the time of the trade, and Loaiza did help a bit. Before coming to Toronto, he had a 5.37 ERA, with 75 strikeouts in 107.1 innings pitched through17 starts, and 20 appearances. But with Toronto he did much better, getting down to a 3.62 ERA, with 62 strikeouts in 14 starts.
One of the worst parts of this trade is the Jays granting Loiaza free agency after the 2002 season. In 2003, with the White Sox, he ended the season second in Cy Young voting by pitching to a 2.90 ERA, and a league leading 207 strikeouts. In all fairness, he did have a 5.71 ERA with Toronto in 2002, which led them to not re-sign him.
Even though the Jays seemed to have a pretty good infield that included the first Alex Gonzalez, Homer Bush, and Tony Batista, the Jays really could’ve used Young for the times that they were trotting out guys like the second Alex Gonzalez, Marco Scutaro (actually that one was ok), and Brett Lawrie in the infield. For that, and the abysmal offering they got from Texas, this trade is a loss for the Blue Jays.