Rays sign Jack Cust to minor league contract

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From Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times comes word that the Rays have agreed to a minor league contract with free agent outfielder Jack Cust.

The deal comes with an invitation to spring training, where Cust will attempt to earn a backup role.

Cust spent the entire 2012 season at the Triple-A level, batting .243/.400/.442 with 20 home runs, 15 doubles and 72 RBI in 493 plate appearances between affiliates of the Yankees and Blue Jays.

The 10-year major league veteran registered a .213/.344/.329 batting line with three home runs, 15 doubles and 23 RBI over 270 plate appearances with Seattle in 2011. He is a .242/.374/.439 career hitter in the bigs.

Mariano Rivera elected to Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously

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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.