Bob Watson, the first black general manager in baseball to win a World Series title, with the New York Yankees in 1996, says he has turned down offers for kidney donations from his two children and is “ready for whatever happens now.”
Watson, 71, has kidney disease and undergoes dialysis several times a week. He told the New York Daily News that he has “gotten to the point where every day I’m still here is a blessing.”
“Both my kids offered to donate kidneys to me,” Watson said, “and I told them both the same thing: ‘I’ve had a good life and I don’t want to take a kidney from young people who really need them and still have their whole lives ahead of them.’ That would be very selfish on my part.”
Watson retired in 2010 after an eight-year role as a vice president of on-field operations with Major League Baseball in which he decided penalties for brawls, pitches intentionally thrown at batters and other matters. He served as general manager of the Houston Astros from 1993-95 before acting as the Yankees’ GM for two years.
“My one regret is that, because of the dialysis, I haven’t been able to travel anymore and I had to miss a lot of baseball events, like the Yankees’ 20th anniversary of the ’96 championship,” Watson said. “Ten months ago, the doctors told me I could have two years or 12. Well now I’ve gotten to the point where every day I’m still here is a blessing.”
He also was the U.S. Baseball Federation’s selection committee chairman, helping staff Olympic baseball teams.
“I had a reputation for never giving up an at-bat, so I’m still fouling ’em off as long as I can,” Watson told the Daily News.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Baltimore Orioles reach one-year deal with recovering Trey Mancini
The Orioles and Santander exchanged salary arbitration figures Friday, with Baltimore offering $2.1 million and Santander asking for $2,475,000. The sides can still settle on a number until an arbitrator hears the case and makes a ruling next month.
Mancini missed the entire 2020 season while recovering from stage 3 colon cancer. He signed on deadline day last January for $4.75 million and was preparing for another solid season before being diagnosed with cancer. The first baseman/outfielder was voted team MVP in 2019 after batting .291 with 35 home runs and 97 RBIs.
Mancini, 28, has been working out this offseason and expects to play a full season this year on a team in the midst of a significant rebuild. Before being sidelined, he averaged 28 homers over his three full seasons and remains one of Baltimore’s most potent offensive threats.
Santander is arbitration-eligible for the first time, and the timing works well for the budding outfielder. Although limited to 37 games in 2020 because of injuries, he hit 11 homers and 13 doubles in only 153 at-bats and drove in 32 runs. He received around $550,000 in 2020 and should receive a significant raise in 2021.
His breakout season came in 2019, when he batted .261 with 20 homers and 59 RBIs in 93 games.
Cardinals, ace Jack Flaherty still without deal, swap arbitration figures
The 25-year-old Flaherty asked for $3.9 million and the team offered $3 million. The sides can come to an agreement until an arbitrator hears their case and makes a decision next month. If left to the arbitrator, the ruling will go entirely to one side or the other — no settling in the middle.
After finishing fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2019, Flaherty went 4-3 with a 4.91 ERA over nine starts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He made one postseason start, pitching one-run ball over six innings in a 4-0 loss to San Diego in the deciding Game 3 of their first-round series.
Flaherty was set to make $604,000 last year and ended up with $223,889 in prorated pay.
This is Flaherty’s first season eligible for arbitration, and he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season.
New York Yankees roll dice on Corey Kluber
Timing is everything, in sports as well as life. If the timing is right between Corey Kluber and the New York Yankees, with whom the longtime ace was finalizing a one-year, $11 million deal late Friday, it will be good news for the pitcher in the long term — and perhaps even better for the team in the short term.
Speaking of timing, in the larger context of this winter’s free-agent market, the timing of Kluber’s free agency reveals an irony when you consider the similar status of former Cleveland teammate Trevor Bauer. Kluber is nearly five years older than Bauer, but for five full seasons (2014 to 2018), Kluber was the most dominant starting pitcher in the American League, leading the circuit in wins (83) and WAR (31.7), according to Baseball-Reference. He won two Cy Young Awards and finished third in the balloting two other times.
In each of those seasons, he was better than Bauer, with the debatable exception of Bauer’s breakout season in 2018, when both star righties ranked among the American League’s top Cy Young candidates. Yet here we are, two seasons later, and it’s Bauer, not Kluber, who is the most coveted pitcher on the market. It was Kluber, not Bauer, who had to audition for teams, throwing a reported 30 pitches before scouts and other interested parties earlier this week at a gathering at which as many as 25 teams were represented.
If anything, that should help light a fuse under Kluber. So, too, will the short duration of his new contract, which is in part a result of his own preference, according to the Newark Star-Ledger, as he hopes to set himself up for a bigger payday next year. That has to be A-OK for the Yankees, who have acquired a pitcher who has thrown just 36⅔ innings over the past two seasons. In 2020, which represents the whole of Kluber’s career with the Texas Rangers, he threw 18 pitches, or 12 fewer than he threw at his showcase earlier this week.
For Kluber, the deal is a chance to prove his outstanding career has a promising second act in the works. For the Yankees, it’s a low-risk, high-upside deal for a hurler who only recently was among the elite of the elite but whose recent string of injuries renders a multiyear splurge as just too risky.
So what kind of Klubot did the Bombers just acquire?
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