Derek Jeter, six-year deals, and how HBT makes sense of the hot stove rumor mill

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Jon Heyman is reporting that Derek Jeter is asking for a six year deal. Oh noes! That’s crazy!  But hey, before we get into this, let me say a few words to those of you who weren’t reading HBT last winter — or those of you who forgot — about how we deal with rumors around these parts:

Between now and spring training, there will be at least one new rumor every day.  Often dozens, but even on Christmas freakin’ Morning, some Johnny Sportswriter will say that they heard this, that or the other about Freeagent Smith being linked with the Whereverthehell Gray Sox.  You’ll be surprised to learn that there’s not a lot of merit to most of them. They’re not made up — really, it’s rare that someone passes along word about these things without having some basis for it — but a ton of them just aren’t credible, either on their face or upon some scrutiny.

That’s where we come in. We post about a lot of rumors. Not all, but most. But just because we mention a rumor, doesn’t mean we think there’s anything to it. To the contrary, we often mention rumors in order to explain why we think they make no sense. Or why they do make sense. Or what six things would have to happen before said rumor could become a reality. Rather than merely aggregate them here, we view ourselves as filters of sorts, trying to help you make sense of where any given rumor fits into the grand scheme of things. Not because we have special expertise necessarily — we don’t talk to as many baseball people as a lot of the reporters do — but because we have the time and experience and wicked search engine skills to put those things into context so you don’t have to. You could debunk this stuff just as easily if you didn’t have real jobs and lives. Which we don’t, when it comes right down to it.

So: Jon Heyman tweets thusly:

jeter could take awhile. #yanks may be thinking 2-3 yrs. but industry sources suggest he could ask to stay ’til hes 42 (6 yrs), a la arod.

And we respond thusly: interesting, but implausible in our minds. Why? Because Jeter has never made an irrational, ill-considered business move in his baseball life, and we can’t see him starting now.  If he insisted on six years, the Yankees would tell him to go away. Even Derek Jeter.  They’re not going to commit to him that long because it makes zero sense for them to do so.

Does this mean that Heyman is wrong? No. I have no doubt that he heard what he heard. But if Jeter is asking for six years, there has to be more to it than we’re getting in this little tweet. Say, three years guaranteed plus a three year commitment that is convertible to a personal services contract with the team in the event he retires.  Or it could mean that Heyman heard it from someone who misunderstood what he heard. Or it could mean that Jon Heyman has a very low threshold for what he considers to be actionable gossip and that he has been accused in the past of being a tool of agents seeking to plant negotiation points in the press. You know, the normal grapevine dynamic.

What we can feel confident in saying, however, is that if Derek Jeter goes in looking for a straight six year contract, he’s kind of nuts, and we don’t have any reason to believe that Jeter is anything but shewed in terms of business and P.R. savvy.

So that’s how we operate here.  We hope you find it helpful.

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.

It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.

Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).” 

Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.

Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.