Over the weekend Goose Gossage — while prefacing every statement with the caveat that he was not taking anything away from Mariano Rivera — said a lot of stuff that pretty clearly suggested that he was taking things away from Mariano Rivera. The upshot: he’s a good one inning closer, that Mo, but back in my day we closed out games for three innings. Uphill. Both ways.
Which, yes, there is truth to the notion that relievers of the 70s and into the 80s were used very differently than they are today. And, in my view, I think a lot of these guys such as John Hiller, Dan Quisenberry and even Gossage to some degree are undersold.
But go read what Joe Posnanski wrote on the topic yesterday before you give Gossage his due for telling the one-inning closers to get off his lawn. Specifically: (a) that for as much as Gossage wants to play up his iron man credentials, he really was done with that kind of work in the first half of his career and spent the second half being used much more like a modern closer; and (b) no matter what you can say about the usage patterns, it is undeniable that Rivera has been far, far better a pitcher in his career than Gossage was in his.
This shouldn’t be debatable. Mariano Rivera was the best of all time, in my view. He is of the same kind as the modern closer, but he is in such a different class than his peers that it’s comical.
As is most of what Gossage says these days about pretty much everything, but you didn’t need me to tell you that.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.