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Weird, now-dismissed lawsuit claimed Derek Jeter derailed a minor leaguer’s career

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This is a weird one. And also a kinda sad one in a way. But first the facts.

A former Yankees minor league shortstop named Garrison Lassiter — a 27th round selection in the 2008 draft — sued the team for $34 million last year, claiming that Derek Jeter was afraid of the competition and worked to derail his career in the organization. The Yankees went along with it, he said, in order to protect Jeter’s reputation. From NJ.com:

In the lawsuit, dismissed by a judge in May, Garrison Lassiter used letters, newspaper clippings and scouting reports to weave a strange tale of conspiracy that he said was launched against him “to protect the career of Derek Jeter.” He alleged that it was “blantanly (sic) obvious” that Jeter controlled the Yankees organization, and he insisted Yankees employees libeled and slandered him to other teams, preventing him from reaching the major leagues.

The reason? “To protect the career of Derek Jeter.”

Lassiter, who put himself through law school after his baseball career was over, filed the complaint himself, which NJ.com describes as “a rambling, conspiracy-laced lawsuit.” He included a lot of letters he wrote to other teams looking for work. To wit:

In a Hail Mary letter to Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels in January 2018, Lassiter wrote, “I’ll never play for the New York Yankees … a Team that doesn’t understand the importance of giving respect to the Players that help the Organization win. These are the facts big dawg.”

Not gonna lie: “these are the facts big dawg” is a pretty amazing phrase.

The reporter of the linked story spoke with former big leaguer Aaron Ledesma, who managed Lassiter in the minors. Based on that — and on his unremarkable stat line in five minor league seasons — the guy just didn’t have the chops to advance. Which is not knock on him. Simply getting drafted means that he was among the best amateur baseball players in the country. And it’s not uncommon for even touted prospects to stall out in A-ball like Lassiter did. There’s no shame in that, and certainly no Derek Jeter-led conspiracy. It was simply a matter of him not having the glove for shortstop and not having the bat for anyplace else, it would seem.

Which makes all of this sound rather sad. Again, not because his baseball career stalled out — most guys don’t even make the pros like he did — but because there was, apparently, no one around him to tell him to move on with his life rather than file this suit and get the inevitable bad publicity once a reporter got wind of it.

Max Scherzer: ‘There’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions’

Max Scherzer
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MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.

Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.

Scherzer’s statement:

After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.

Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.

Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.