BOSTON -- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski targeted Chris Young all along to be the team's fourth outfielder, and that decisiveness played a big role in making the acquisition a reality.
Young made that clear Wednesday after officially signing a two-year, $13 million deal with Boston.
"What I liked was Dave reached out to my agency very early in the offseason, as soon as they were allowed to, and showed a huge interest," Young said. "As a player, any time you have a team who has that much interest in you and feels like you can make a difference on their team, that's a situation you want to be in."
The cost is higher than what you normally see for a fourth outfielder, and that's for a couple of reasons.
The 32-year-old Young absolutely mashes left-handed pitching, and is also an above average defender at all three outfield spots. Throw in the fact he also has experience as an everyday player and that he's a positive influence in the clubhouse and Dombrowski considered the signing a no-brainer.
"We're very happy to have Chris on board with us," Dombrowski said. "When we signed Chris and approached adding someone as a fourth outfielder, he was really at the top of our list. He fits a lot of really what we were looking for in a player. He's a good player, he's versatile, he can play all the outfield spots. We really wanted to have someone who hit against left-handed pitching, which Chris does very well. He's a threat any time he comes to the plate. For us, he was just a perfect fit."
"When Chris and I met [Tuesday], we wanted to make sure we don't go too many number of games in between starts," said manager John Farrell. "There's going to be at-bats against right-handers, keeping him sharp. Even what we saw across the field last year, he'd get on a hot streak and he'd play against righties and take advantage of the performance trend he's in at the time, and we see that playing out very similar for us this year."
Thank you Yankee fans for your great wishes and thank you #RedSoxNation for welcoming me with open arms!! Looking forward to a GREAT year!!
Young spent the 2015 season with the Yankees, batting .252/.320/.453 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs in 140 games.
Those numbers could improve with Young playing half of his games in Fenway Park, a much better ballpark for right-handed power hitters than Yankee Stadium.
"I'm excited about it, and not just about the short porch in left field, but the energy that Fenway brings," said Young. "That's always been something I've loved. I had the opportunity to play with the Yankees last year and get the experience of the AL East and the different brand of baseball you experience in the AL East. With the energy and the crowds with the passion, the fans and the opportunity to play in such a historic place, it's going to be an amazing experience for me, and I'm looking forward to it."
Young joins closer Craig Kimbrel and ace David Price (pending the completion of a physical) as key new additions by Dombrowski this winter.
"I think our positional players are basically set," Dombrowski said. "You can always get better. We'll be open-minded going into the Winter Meetings."
In 175 plate appearances against lefties last year, Young produced a .327/.397/.575 line.
For his career, Young owns an .837 OPS against southpaws and a .704 mark against righties.
Young has had over 500 at-bats in a season four times. But over the last three seasons, he's mainly been used as a platoon player.
While the Red Sox know that Betts is more than capable of playing every day, there are still some questions about how much offense Bradley and Castillo will produce.
Bradley had the best stretch of his career from Aug. 9-Sept. 7 last year, hitting .446 with seven homers and 32 RBIs. However, in 700 career at-bats, Bradley is a .213 hitter with 14 homers, 83 RBIs and a .638 OPS. Bradley's track record in the Minor Leagues suggests he has the ability to hit in the big leagues.
Castillo has been inconsistent at the plate and troubled by nagging injuries since signing in August 2014. In 273 at-bats last season, Castillo hit .253 with five homers, 29 RBIs and a .647 OPS. The Red Sox like his defense and athleticism and believe he can develop into a solid player.
With 14 homers across 318 at-bats and his highest batting average (.252) since 2010, Young was an effective reserve player for the Yankees in '15. Looking ahead, the native Texan will likely serve as Boston's fourth outfielder behind a starting trio of Betts, Bradley and Castillo. With his career success against left-handers, Young should start against most southpaws unless an injury opens a path to regular duty. Those in American League-only formats can hope for a 10th consecutive season with double-digit homers, but Young is unlikely to crack standard mixed-league rosters.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.