This is the story of how one Canadian big league general manager fleeced another Canadian general manager out of a player that would become one of the best infielders in Major League Baseball. Well, the story isn’t that simple. And Doug Melvin, a Chatham, Ont., native and then general manager of Texas Rangers, will admit that even he didn’t know how good Jays prospect Michael Young would turn out to be when he landed him in a deal with Toronto native Gord Ash.
In July 2000, the Jays found themselves within striking distance of the division-leading Yankees. David Wells, Kelvim Escobar, Chris Carpenter and Frank Castillo were the middling quartet atop the Jays rotation, but their biggest problem was their fifth starter, Roy Halladay, who was struggling mightily. His ERA had ballooned to 10.64 and the Jays had no choice but to dispatch him to the minors. Like most teams, the Jays were desperate for pitching help, and around that time, Esteban Loaiza, who had been a decent middle-of-the-rotation starter until that season, had been demoted to the Texas Rangers bullpen.
Ash reportedly called Melvin to inquire about Loaiza. With a wealth of middle infield prospects, including Felipe Lopez, Brent Abernathy, Cesar Izturis and Young, in his system, Ash was willing to part with one of them for Loaiza. Though it’s hard to fathom now, at the time, Young, a 23-year-old second baseman in Double-A, was the lowest on the Jays’ depth chart. So the Jays offered Young and a hard-throwing pitcher named Darwin Cubillan to Texas for Loaiza on July 19, 2000. After conferring with one of his top scouts, Rudy Terrasas, who liked Young’s athleticism and versatility, Melvin agreed to the deal.
“We thought he (Young) had a chance to be a regular player. But we didn’t think he would be an all-star,” Melvin would later tell Jamey Newburg, who covers the Rangers for the http://www.newburgreport.com
Young would make his big league debut the following year, manning second base next to A-Rod. Now in his 10th season with the Rangers, Young has been selected to six all-star teams, recorded five 200-hit seasons, hit over .300 in six seasons and won a batting title in 2005. When A-Rod was dealt to the Yankees, Young became a Gold Glove shortstop. He has since moved to third base.
In Loaiza’s less-than-memorable, two-and-a-half season stint with the Jays, he compiled a 25-28 record and a 4.96 ERA. The enigmatic right-hander went 5-7 down the stretch for the Jays in 2000, who finished with 83 wins, four-and-a-half games back of the Yankees.
This Monday represents the 10th anniversary of this lopsided trade and it isn’t likely to be celebrated by Jays fans. Most consider this the worst transaction in franchise history. There isn’t likely to be a conversation in the Milwaukee Brewers executive offices about this transaction either. That’s where you’ll find Canadians Melvin and Ash working together on trades these days. Melvin is the general manager of the Brewers and Ash is his assistant.