It's fun to dream about star power trades that never happened but were supposedly discussed behind the scenes. The story of Larry MacPhail and Tom Yawkey talking Ted Williams for Joe DiMaggio over drinks and writing the terms on cocktail napkins reigns king in this category. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, another juicy deal with Hall of Famers almost happened 50 years later.
The key players? Derek Jeter, at the beginning of his long Yankees career that ended with 3,465 hits and five World Series titles. Vladimir Guerrero, an All-Star outfielder with a rocket for an arm who assembled his own formidable case for Cooperstown with a career from 1996-2011 that almost paralleled Jeter's. Lastly, there was 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Pedro Martinez, who was already a Cy Young Award winner and eventually became perhaps the Yankees' greatest nemesis with the Boston Red Sox.
Back then, though, Guerrero and Pedro were on the constantly-rebuilding Montreal Expos, not too long before the franchise relocated to Washington. Here's what Cafardo said about the rumor:
As the story goes: When Jeffrey Loria owned the Expos, he was obsessed with Derek Jeter. So he ordered his general manager, Jim Beattie, to try to make a deal with the Yankees and to give up whatever he had to. Beattie offered Yankees GM Brian Cashman Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Martinez. Stunned, Cashman told Beattie, "I can’t trade Derek Jeter."
Now that's a scoop.
However, there's a serious flaw with this story. As PSA already tweeted and Mike Bates expounded upon over at MLB Daily Dish, the timeline is all messed up. Much has been said about how Loria ruined the Expos, but in reality, he only owned them from about December 1999 until January 2002. By this point, Martinez was long-since traded to the Red Sox.
For what it's worth, Beattie was GM of the Expos from 1995 through 2001, so it's certainly possible that he floated the Pedro/Vlad-for-Jeter trade to Cashman, even if Cashman was still Bob Watson's assistant GM at the time Martinez was shipped to Beantown (November 1997). At that point, Jeter was just the '96 Rookie of the Year and while he displayed talent, he wasn't quite the superstar he became in '98 and '99.
If this trade proposal was ever, in fact, real following the '97 season (Martinez did say that he thought he would be traded to the Yankees at one point), it would have been awfully difficult for the Yankees to turn down, no matter how awesome Jeter looked. Martinez just won the NL Cy Young Award in '97 and Guerrero was a 22-year-old Rookie of the Year contender and Baseball America's second-ranked prospect prior to the season.
Pedro might have been entering his last year of club control, but the Yankees could have extended him just as Boston did after the deal. It's tempting! Although I love Jeter, I think I would have had to pull the trigger. Maybe that's greedy since while there's a solid chance the Yankees "three-peat" and more with Pedro & Vlad from 1998-2000 rather than Jeter, the butterfly effect works in mysterious ways.
Unless Beattie clarifies the timeframe (or corrects Pedro to a different player Loria offered for Jeter), fans can't really put too much stock in this rumor. Some things are too good to be true.
Vote in the poll to let us know what you would have done if the Expos made this offer after the 1997 season!