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


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.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.