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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.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.