Get a load of this. Buster Olney tells us:
The Yankees considered trading Mariano Rivera twice in the span of one calendar year. First, in May 1995 — as former GM Gene Michael told the story many years ago — the Yankees were involved in talks with the Tigers about David Wells, and the Tigers were interested in Rivera. One day, Michael got a report from the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Columbus, in which there was word that Rivera’s fastball had been clocked at a consistent 95 mph the night before, and he had touched 96 mph.
There was a major split between the New York and Tampa branches of the Yankees‘ front office at the time, and Michael’s initial thought was that Rivera’s velocity reading was an artificial production of the Tampa group, in an effort to pump up the team’s prospects. Michael called to Columbus and asked them to double-check their radar readings; the word came back that the radar gun was fine.
Then Michael called a scout from the Tigers, Jerry Walker, who he knew had been trailing Rivera, and in the midst of talking about other players, Michael asked Walker about Rivera’s velocity — and Walker confirmed that Rivera’s fastball had been in the mid-90s. Michael ended all consideration of trading Rivera that summer, convinced there was more in the young right-hander that he hadn’t yet shown.
But in the spring of 1996, the Yankees were again talking about trading Rivera. Veteran shortstopTony Fernandez had gotten hurt and, early in spring training, Yankees officials — including owner George Steinbrenner — decided to commit the position to Derek Jeter, the organization’s top prospect. After Jeter struggled in spring training, however, one of Steinbrenner’s advisors, Clyde King, told Steinbrenner that he didn’t think Jeter was ready.
The Yankees needed another infielder, King believed, to start the year. Under orders from Steinbrenner, the Yankees‘ front office reached out to the Seattle Mariners about veteran shortstop Felix Fermin, and in return, the Mariners asked for either Rivera or Bob Wickman.
With spring training coming to an end, the Yankees‘ staff met and there was a spirited discussion about why the trade shouldn’t be made — but it wasn’t because anybody was lobbying for Rivera, as one participant recalled. The debate focused on Jeter. “We had all said we would stick with Jeter, no matter what,” Michael argued. “That’s what we should do.”
Steinbrenner, typically anxious about spring training failure, was talked off the ledge, and almost accidentally, Rivera remained with the Yankees. Fermin had 16 more plate appearances in the big leagues before he retired.
Oh, the humanity. One trade could have possibly re-railed Jeter’s career AND dealt the greatest closer of all-time away before he had established himself.