Last month the Tigers declined their $15 million option on Magglio Ordonez for 2011, but after shopping around for a new team Ordonez has decided to return to Detroit on a one-year deal worth two-thirds the salary.
Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that Ordonez turned down two-year offers elsewhere to re-sign for $10 million, citing his loyalty to Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. That may be true, but $10 million for one year is the same deal Carlos Pena got from the Cubs and several other veteran corner outfielders and designated hitters signed for less, so it’s hardly a big discount for the 37-year-old.
Ordonez can still hit at age 37, batting .303/.378/.474 this season and a combined .311/.376/.466 over the past three seasons, but he missed the final 65 games of the year with a fractured ankle and had become a liability defensively even before suffering the injury in late July. Victor Martinez’s presence makes hiding Ordonez’s glove at DH unlikely, but the Tigers are willing to give up some defense to keep another big bat in the lineup.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.