Prior to the 2008 season, the Twins traded their top young starting pitcher and their starting shortstop to the Rays for Delmon Young, hoping he'd prove to be a long-term fix for their perpetual right-handed power shortage.
In 497 games over the next four years, he'd hit .287/.324/.429 with 47 home runs. That disappointingly mediocre offensive production, in conjunction with his abysmal defense in left field, made him a liability overall during his time in Minnesota.
While he's shown flashes of transforming into the premier power hitter that his minor-league track record and pedigree suggested possible, Young's horrendous plate discipline, lack of athleticism and inability (or unwillingness) to make adjustments prevented him from permanently turning the corner.
He was amidst his worst season yet when the Twins finally made the decision yesterday to cut the cord, dealing the troubled outfielder to Detroit in exchange for Single-A pitcher Cole Nelson and a player to be named later.
The return might not be terribly exciting, but the fact that the Twins were willing to deal him within the division tells you something about what they thought of him, and the fact that Young went unclaimed on waivers all the way up until the first-place Tigers tells you something about what the league thought of him.
I'd guess that when the Twins hung onto Young at the non-waiver deadline they were hoping his bat would come alive and aid their comeback effort, but with the team promptly dropping out of contention here in August, dumping the fledgling outfielder was essentially a no-brainer. There would be no way to justify tendering him a contract during the offseason and paying him around $6 million in arbitration after the year he's had. The Twins are better off putting that money toward free agency or re-signing Michael Cuddyer/Jason Kubel.
The door is now open for Ben Revere to play regularly for the rest of the season, which should give the Twins a better idea of how he'll factor into their 2012 plans. Meanwhile, Young's salary is off the books and the Twins have added a somewhat intriguing arm in Nelson, who could develop into a quality hard-throwing lefty reliever.
At 25, Young still has the potential to be more than he currently is, but it's been clear to me for some time that he was never going to reach that potential here. I wish him the best, but I'm not sorry to go see him go and I'm not particularly worried that dealing him will come back to haunt the Twins in the long run.
Certainly not as much as dealing for him in the first place did.