Reporters haven’t been able to do much better than “Bigfoot off in the distance” pictures of Derek Jeter working out down in Tampa, but the Yankees’ David Phelps has an early review of the Captain on the Comeback Trail:
“Derek looks amazing. That’s awesome . . . You can tell he’s determined to go out there and do well,” Phelps said. “If you had to place a bet on it, you know he’s going to go out there and have a good year. I’m really looking forward to seeing him play again. He’s having a lot of fun right now.”
No Yankees player is going to say “man, Jeter looks like he’s toast. Dude has nothing. He should probably hang it up.” But nor would they flat out lie, I suspect. If Jeter looked creaky and terrible, you’d probably here far more vague things about how “he’s a competitor” and how no one should ever count out Jeter and stuff.
So while, yes, Phelps is not exactly the most objective source on the planet, hearing raves like this should not be entirely discounted either. It’s not likely that a nearly 40-year-old shortstop is going to look like he’s 30 again, but — for as cliche as this sounds — if anyone can buck the odds, isn’t it going to be Jeter?
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Padres are still discussing a potential trade for a starting pitcher, namely Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Rosenthal adds that a deal isn’t close and is unlikely to occur before Opening Day. The Padres are balking at the Indians’ asking prices for the two starters.
The Padres could certainly use an ace at the top of the rotation. With the addition of Manny Machado, the lineup is looking decent, but beyond Joey Lucchesi, the starting pitching doesn’t inspire confidence.
Kluber, who turns 33 years old next month, has club options for the next two seasons at $13.5 million and $14 million with $1 million buyouts each. Last year, the right-hander finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, finishing 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.
Bauer, 28, is earning $13 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration heading into 2020. Last year, Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 221/57 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings.
The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central once again, but that has as much to do with the mediocrity of the rest of the division as the Indians’ commitment to competing. If the Indians were to trade either or both starters, that would be good news for the Twins, who are projected to be 15 games worse than the Indians but still finish in second place, according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.