“It’s almost sad to see how fast [Jeter] has lost it. Everything looks slow, soft, old. I hate saying it, because everyone respects Derek. But it’s true.”
— An American League scout, quoted by Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record.
Klapisch’s article is a good one. Rather than just wring his hands about Jeter’s awful performance, he reminds us of the last time a Yankee icon simply lost it: 1951 and Joe DiMaggio. The difference, as Klapisch notes, is Jeter’s new contract hanging over everything. Should Jeter walk away if he can’t find his stroke this year? Is he even capable of doing so?
In thinking about this I’m struck by the notion that the air of professionalism and high-quality public relations that has served Jeter so well throughout his career now works to make his thoughts and motivations on the matter a mystery. Last year, when Chipper Jones was struggling he talked openly about whether he could or should continue to play through the duration of his contract. We’ll likely never get such public emoting about it all from Jeter.
Not that we deserve it. It’s his career and his life. But the mystery about it all probably does work to increase the public scrutiny, with our fretting about it filling the void that Jeter’s lack of public comment creates.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.