Last offseason the Mariners acquired Casey Kotchman from the Red Sox, settled on $3.5 million contract to avoid arbitration, and then watched as the first baseman hit .217 with a lowly .280 on-base percentage and .336 slugging percentage in 125 games to rank as one of the worst players in baseball.
He remained under team control as an arbitration eligible player for 2011, but today the Mariners dropped him from the 40-man roster and Kotchman became a free agent by declining an assignment to Triple-A.
Kotchman is a better hitter than he showed this season and remains a very good defensive first baseman, but at this point it’s time to give up any hope of him becoming a starting-caliber hitter.
At age 28 he owns a career line of .259/.326/.392 in over 2,300 plate appearances, which is mediocre for a shortstop and downright awful for a first baseman regardless of the quality of his glove. He may have to settle for a minor-league contract and a chance to compete for a bench job in spring training.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.