David Waldstein of the New York Times has a good story up today about the conversations ballplayers have had with Derek Jeter at second base over the years. You know, the little bits of smalltalk after you pull into the bag following a walk and your teammate’s shallow single to right field. Everyone has them, but they are often different when Jeter is involved.
Like this one, involving Gordon Beckham, not long after he came into the league. He got to second base and said hello to Jeter, who said hello back. Beckham was star-stuck:
The next batter hit a ground ball to Jeter, who threw to first for the second out. Beckham, still distracted from the conversation with Jeter, thought it was the final out. He wandered off third and handed his helmet to the third-base coach. Mark Teixeira saw that and threw to Alex Rodriguez, who tagged an embarrassed Beckham for the third out.
I’m not sure how any player under the age of, say, 25, doesn’t get to second base and just go full-on Chris Farley-talk-show with Jetes, actually.
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.