Murray Chass has a great story about the late Bill Lajoie. He wrote about it in the New York Times when it occurred in 1988, but that was before I was paying attention to the New York Times, so I never heard it. The scene: Lajoie’s Tigers trade for Fred Lynn at the end of August. Under an odd rule at the time, Lynn had to physically be in the same city as the Tigers by midnight at the deadline in order to be eligible for the playoff roster. Lynn’s plane arrived a tad late. No one would have known any different. Lajoie as honest about it:
He knew that Lynn technically had not arrived in Chicago on his chartered jet from Anaheim, where the Orioles were playing, by midnight. He knew that the plane had not entered Chicago air space until 10 minutes after midnight. Lajoie could have said that Lynn had beaten the deadline and, an official in the commissioner’s office said, the office would have accepted his word. But Lajoie chose to be honest.
“He didn’t get there,” Lajoie admitted the next day. “They were over the city limits about 10 after 12.” Asked why he didn’t fudge the time, Lajoie said, “I just felt a rule’s a rule. There’s no sense playing with it. That’s the rule and we’ll live by it.”
Stupid rule or not, that’s pretty astounding. How many of us would have been so forthcoming, especially given that it was well-known that the league never investigated such matters and deferred to the word of the GM in these matters? How many of us would have thought “It’s a dumb rule. It was mostly complied with. I’m lettin’ it slide.”
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will opt out of his contract shortly after the World Series concludes. Cespedes, who earned $17.5 million for the 2016 season, has two years and $47.5 million remaining on his deal which includes an opt-out clause.
That Cespedes plans to opt out isn’t surprising as he’s almost certain to get a better contract entering a weak free agent market. He hit a terrific .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI in 543 plate appearances for the Mets this past season.
It remains to be seen how the Mets will deal with potentially losing Cespedes. They can pick up a $13 million club option for Jay Bruce, but he performed terribly after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. The Mets could also go after free agents Jose Bautista or Mark Trumbo. Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto will handle the other two outfield positions.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.
Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.
Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.
Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.