Since the sporting press descended on Phoenix yesterday morning there has been a lot of talk about Derek Jeter’s absence from this year’s All-Star Game. Jeter was elected by fans, you see, so many — including some players and some reporters — think that he should be there regardless of whether he will play, rest his leg or whatever. There is a suggestion by some that Jeter is shirking his responsibilities as the game’s most visible ambassador.
It seems, however, that there is a reason other than having a better way to spend his time that is keeping Jeter back home. From Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox:
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will not attend the All-Star Game due to “emotional and physical exhaustion” from his pursuit of 3,000 hits, according to two people with knowledge of his thinking.
My prediction: this will lead to a lot of people laying even more scorn on his decision to avoid the All-Star Game and a lot people saying “he should get over it.” My position: those people should probably be quiet and leave Jeter alone.
Jeter has done more than his fair share of baseball diplomacy over the years. He has always said and done the right thing even though almost any other mortal human being with an ego would have cracked at least once by now. He has done fan service, media service, team service and sponsor service. He has just gone through a stretch where people were simultaneously questioning his skills because of his play and declaring his greatness because of hit 3,000, often within a minute or two of one another.
Jeter is smooth and composed, but he’s also human. After nearly 20 years in the spotlight, he’s entitled to three frickin’ days off, isn’t he? Why are people getting upset about this? Why is Jeter catching flak here when there are dozens of other players who are sitting out too? “Emotional exhaustion” seems like a plenty good reason for me. At least for this man at this time. Indeed, he has earned the right by now to say he doesn’t want to go because there’s a good movie on tonight that he’s been wanting to see.
He’s Derek Jeter. I think he has sufficient goodwill in the bank to sit this one out without being killed for it.
The Orioles and closer Zach Britton avoided an arbitration hearing, agreeing to a $6.75 million salary for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman reports. The club has now handled all of its remaining arbitration cases and won’t have to go to a hearing with any players.
Britton, in his second of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $7.9 million while the Orioles countered at $5.6 million. $6.75 million is exactly the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
The 28-year-old lefty saved 36 games in 40 chances last season for the O’s while putting up a 1.92 ERA with a 79/14 K/BB ratio over 65 2/3 innings.
Tacking onto Friday’s report that the Blue Jays will attempt to sign Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to multi-year deals, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the club will try to do the same with third baseman and defending American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes that Donaldson’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 15, so the two sides will have 10 days to hammer out a contract.
Donaldson, 30, is entering his second of four years of arbitration eligibility. After earning $4.3 million last season, Donaldson filed for $11.8 million and the Blue Jays countered at $11.35 million. The $450,000 difference isn’t much compared to some of the other disparities among arbitration-eligible players and their respective clubs. Jake Arrieta and the Cubs, for example, had a gap of $6.5 million.
This past season, Donaldson let the league in runs scored and RBI with 122 and 123, respectively, while batting .297.371/.568 with 41 home runs and 41 doubles. He earned 23 of 30 first place votes in AL MVP balloting, with runner-up Mike Trout of the Angels grabbing the other seven votes.
Juan Duran, a minor-league outfielder in the Reds’ farm system, has been suspended 80 games following positive tests for the performance-enhancing drugs Drostanolone, Stanozolol, and Nandrolone.
Duran is 6-foot-7 with big-time power, averaging 23 homers per 150 games since 2011, but he also strikes out a ton and struggles to control the strike zone. He spent last season at Double-A, missing a lot of time with injuries and hitting .256 with six homers and a .728 OPS in 59 games as a 23-year-old.
Duran is on the 40-man roster and is considered a quasi-prospect, but he’ll be ineligible to play until July and figures to head back to Double-A once reinstated.
Ever since Alex Anthopoulos resigned as Blue Jays’ GM and Mark Shapiro took over as team president, a distinct air of frugality has set in over Rogers Centre. The go-for-broke attitude that fueled Toronto’s fantastic second half last year was repudiated and long-term, sustainable building has seemed to be the order of the day.
But the Jays aren’t going to go crazy with that: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Blue Jays plan to have long-term extension talks with the agents of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion during spring training. This, combined with the still-remaining possibility that they can avoid arbitration with MVP Josh Donaldson and hammer out a long-term deal could mean some serious spending by the Jays before Opening Day.
Or this could just be talk from the front office designed to buoy the spirits of fans. Locking up all three of them to long-term deals may be hella expensive and may not be possible. It’s also the case that, given their ages — Bautista is 35 and Encarnacion is 33 — it may not be advisable to lock the both up. As always, it depends on the terms and how generous Rogers Communications plans on being with the Jays’ budget.
But the chatter is now out there and expectations are poised to be set.