Young helps Rangers build stability
Shortstop understands responsibility that comes with signing
SURPRRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers owner Tom Hicks recognizes the dire need for stability in his organization.This is a franchise that has not only been through four managers and three general managers over the past seven years, but has also seen several high-profile players leave for one reason or another. At one point or another, Hicks had expressed hope that each of those players would retire as a Ranger. This time, he was determined not to let Michael Young get away, and that was one of the motivating reasons why the Rangers signed their three-time All-Star shortstop to a five-year, $80 million contract. The Rangers officially announced the signing at a press conference on Friday. Young was already signed through 2008, so this contract takes him through the 2013 season. "This is a commitment on the organization's behalf and on Michael and [wife] Cristina's behalf," Hicks said. "Seven years from now, we're going to sign Michael again. We want him to retire as a Ranger." The contract is the second largest ever given to a player by the Rangers, topped only by Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $252 million contract in December 2000. Rodriguez made it through just three years of that contract before the Rangers traded him to the New York Yankees right before the 2004 season. "Michael has been one of our quiet leaders and he's one of those we've been getting input from on what we needed to do," Hicks said. "I recognize that stability has been an issue a number of years ago. You can't achieve that overnight, but I think we are getting to that position." Young was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in 2000 and has been in the Rangers' starting infield since May 25, 2002. He has been with the Rangers through much of the instability over the past several years, but was willing to sign a contract extension because he likes the direction the Rangers are headed. "That was actually the easy part of the decision, knowing that this organization is going to win," Young said. "We've been through some rough times, but this is too good of an organization and too talented of players not to win. We have too good of an owner, too good of a general manager, manager, hitting coach on down the line, not to get this turned around. "We've had some rough times, but it's time to win and I want to be around it. I want to be a huge part of it and I think this franchise is ready to take off."
Young, the 2005 American League batting champion and the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 All-Star Game, batted .314 with 14 home runs and 103 RBIs for the Rangers last year. It's the fourth straight season that he has batted over .300 and collected more than 200 hits, and he set a club record with 52 doubles."Michael is a great player, but when you make a commitment for seven years in sports, you've got to like the man," Hicks said. "Michael is a special person. We want Michael to be the face of our organization. We want people when they bring their children to the ballpark to point at Michael and say, that's what a baseball player is supposed to be." Young said he understands the responsibility that comes with that role. "I'm ready for it," Young said. "Believe me, they are going to get everything I have for the next seven years." The Rangers would also like Mark Teixeira to be a part of their future beyond 2008, but that is probably not going to happen anytime soon. Teixeira is signed for $9 million this season. He is eligible for arbitration in 2008 and, after that, he will have six years of big-league service time and can become a free agent. The two sides have not had anything in the way of substantive talks of late. "I'm not thinking about that," Teixeira said. "I'm very happy for Michael and I'm excited about playing with him the next two years. Then we will see what happens." Rangers general manager Jon Daniels insisted that this is not a situation where the club could afford one or the other. "They are mutually exclusive," Daniels said. "They are not related whether we sign Mark or not. If anything, for Mark, this bodes well because he knows that one of the best players in the game will be playing along side him. But at no point was this either one or the other." Instead, this was about getting one of Texas' best players signed for an extended period of time to not only perform at a high level on the field, but to be a leader in the clubhouse and a focal point in the community. That's part of the Rangers' efforts to build badly needed stability. "We want to make sure we have a great player signed for an extended period," Hicks said. "One thing I've learned in 13 years with the [NHL's Dallas] Stars and 10 years with the Rangers is this organization needs stability. We haven't had that. Part of it has been my fault; part of it has been others. But we're going to have stability and try to build the best team we can. "Now there's no doubt that Michael will be a part of that."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.