Young's four-year deal worth $14.5 million
SAN DIEGO -- At 6-foot-10 and Princeton-educated, Chris Young would stand out in any crowd.
The 27-year-old right-hander has impressed the San Diego Padres enough to earn a $14.5 million, four-year contract that would be worth $23 million if the team exercises a 2011 option.
Young seems to be a no-hitter waiting to happen, hasn't been beaten on the road in nearly two years and is the only Padres pitcher to win a playoff game since 1998.
"This is more than I could have asked for," Young said. "It's a tremendous opportunity for me and my family and I'm extremely grateful for everything they've done for me."
Young already was under contract for this season, with a club option for next year. He gets an immediate raise for this year, from $600,000 to $750,000, plus a signing bonus of $500,000.
He locks in a salary of $2.5 million for next year. Under his old deal, the 2008 option would have been between $1.8 million and $2.5 million, depending on innings this season.
He'll get $4.5 million in 2009 and $6.25 million in 2010. The club option for 2011 is worth $8.5 million and could go as high as $11 million, depending on accomplishments in the previous two seasons.
Young, who starred in baseball and basketball at Princeton, is 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA in two starts this year. He allowed Bonds' only homer of the season so far last Wednesday in San Francisco, getting a no-decision in a 5-3 Padres win.
"It's pretty indicative of the type of pitcher that Chris is," general manager Kevin Towers said. "He's one of the bright young pitching stars in the National League as well as all of baseball. He's a fresh arm, someone who hasn't pitched a great deal but you wouldn't ever know that watching the way he approaches each and every game."
Young's deal came less than two weeks after first baseman Adrian Gonzalez got a $9.5 million, four-year deal that would be worth $15 million if the Padres exercise an option for $5.5 million in 2011.
"These are the type of individuals we want wearing the Padres name on the front of their jerseys," Towers said. "These are the type of guys we'd like to have around, the guys that are championship-winning type players."
Young was 11-5 with a 3.46 ERA last season, when he came within two outs of the Padres' first no-hitter on Sept. 22 against Pittsburgh. He also took a no-hit bid into the eighth against Colorado in May.
He also became the first Padres starter to win a postseason game since 1998 when he won at St. Louis in Game 3 of the division series, throwing 6 2-3 shutout innings with nine strikeouts. The Padres lost the series in four games. San Diego was swept by the Cardinals in 2005, their first time back in the playoffs since being swept by the New York Yankees in the 1998 World Series.
Hitters have struggled against Young because of his deceptive delivery.
"Hitters just don't get a good look at it," Towers said.
"He reminds me a lot of Trevor Hoffman, but a a starter," Towers said, comparing Young with the Padres' closer, who is baseball's career saves leader with 484. "It's tough to track his arm with the downward plane and the stride. His fastball is very deceptive. He's smart and he's got a lot of Hoffman-type intangibles. He's a fierce competitor, establishes his fastball and never gives in to the hitter."
Dating to June 25, 2005, Young is 9-0 with 16 no-decisions in 25 starts on the road. Only one other pitcher in big league history went undefeated in 25 straight road starts, with Allie Reynolds also accomplishing the feat during the 1948 and 1949 seasons.
Agent Lon Babby said he and Young prepared in the offseason in case Towers approached them about an extension, which he did at the end of spring training.
"I'm very happy with the way it worked out," Young said. "It's a great deal for both sides and I look forward to going out and concentrating on baseball."
The deal will allow the Padres to avoid arbitration, and the option year is the first season Young would be eligible for free agency.
"To avoid that process is great and to control one year of free agency is huge for us," Towers said.
Babby said the option year "is at a number that's slightly below market value but one Chris can live with. It's pretty fair compensation.
"You hope with a deal like this that he outperforms it," Babby said. "That means he's doing great, and that's good for club. He goes into it with the expectation that he'll perform at a level that justifies that and beyond."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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