In a recent piece for the New York Times, Tyler Kepner traveled back in history for a look at the 1992 MLB Draft, when Derek Jeter was selected sixth overall by the Yankees. Kepner spoke to the scouts that drafted Jeter and others who were present and conscious of the Yanks’ thinking when the future Hall of Famer was snatched. It’s a great read and a great story, especially when you consider the five names that came off the board before Jeter:
1st overall.Phil Nevin – 3B – Astros: Nevin was a stud in college for Cal State-Fullerton and lasted 12 years in the major leagues. He finished his career with a .270 batting average, 208 home runs and 743 RBI in 1217 games. Now he manages the Tigers’ Double-A affiliate in Erie, Pennsylvania.
2nd overall. Paul Shuey – RHP – Indians:The reliever had several quality seasons and finished with a 3.87 ERA in 476 career appearances for the Tribe, Dodgers and Orioles. Of course, Cleveland didn’t draft him with the hope that he would turn into a mediocre middle reliever and he threw his last major league pitch in 2007.
3rd overall. B.J. Wallace – LHP – Expos: Wallace was a strikeout machine during his days at Mississippi State University and had a superb opening season in the Single-A Florida State League in 1993. But injuries plagued him often and he failed to ever reach the major leagues. By 1996 he was out of baseball altogether.
4th overall. Jeffery Hammonds – OF – Orioles: Considered a five-tool player when he was selected out of Stanford University, Hammonds shot quickly through the O’s system and made his MLB debut in 1993. He failed to ever live up to the hype, though, and hung up his cleats in 2005 with a .272/.338/.449 career batting line in 957 games.
5th overall. Chad Motolla – OF – Reds: Motolla didn’t debut with the Reds until late 1996 and played in only 59 major league games. He’s better known for his success in the minor leagues, where he’s among the all-time leaders in hits and RBI. Now 38, he works as a hitting coach in the Blue Jays’ system.
Some guys — and some clubs, really — just have all the luck. Jeter, 35, has a .387 career on-base percentage, a .458 slugging percentage, 2,820 hits and 311 stolen bases over his 15-plus professional seasons with the Yankees. He debuted in 1995 and is currently batting .301/.350/.435 with six home runs, 34 RBI and six steals in 242 at-bats. This year’s amateur draft begins on Monday. The Nationals, of course, are on the clock and are fully expected to draft 17-year-old catcher Bryce Harper.
Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.
After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.
The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:
Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.
However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.
There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”
Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:
And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:
UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.
After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.