Good story at SI by Chris Ballard about a dude who I bet most casual fans would guess quit playing a couple of years ago. Jason Giambi: former MVP, former $23 million a year player, former steroids poster boy.
For the past three years he’s been a pinch hitter in Colorado. He had a nice blip of a season in 2011, but it’s winding down now. And Giambi, who has long been on-the-record contrite about his and the game’s notorious steroids years, is waxing reflective:
And yet here he is. Now, at 41, Giambi has an 11-month-old daughter named London Shay. When I asked what he’d like people to say about her father when she’s 10 years old, he stopped for a moment. “Wow … I would love for them to say, ‘One time in his career, he made a mistake but he worked really hard and got his honor back and he was honest,'” Giambi said. “I think that’s the most important [thing]. I’ve been on top of the world in this game, I’ve won the most valuable player, and I’ve been in the gutter in this game. But I’m still here.”
Not many former superstars continue on as role players after their elite skills have faded into average ones. Giambi says it’s about simply loving the game. Part of me wonders if there isn’t some aspect of penance to it, even if it’s a subconscious thing. Like Giambi feels as though he owes the game yeoman’s work after his tainted time at the top.
Either way, Giambi leaving the game, as it seems he’s poised to, sort of feels like the end of an era.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.