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.
New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.
Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.
The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.
It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.
Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.
The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.
Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.
Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.
Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.
While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.
Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.