|It Appears Over For Jermaine Dye|
Written by Justin Zeth (Contact & Archive) on February 03, 2011
Boy, has Jermaine Dye thrown down the gauntlet: if nobody gives him a major league contract, he's taking his bat and going home.
Or maybe we should say he's staying home, since that's where he's been for well over a year now.
It's an unusual situation. True, Dye was 35 in 2009 and suffered a substantial decline. True, a .793 OPS isn't very valuable from a DH, and Dye at 36 no longer has any defensive value, and in fact probably should be kept away from the outfield in the interests of keeping him away from the local rehabilitation specialists. But even so, a guy that routinely savaged the baseball two years ago should have no trouble finding work in a sport populated by people who love Proven Veterans™, right? Dye should at the very least have had his pick of minor league contracts, right?
Ah, that's the catch. You may recall that Dye did in fact receive more than one offer of a minor league contract. But like Oliver Perez before him, Jermaine Dye will be damned to hell if he's even taking the slightest risk of being shipped off to the minor leagues, and Dye meant it: when he didn't get a major league contract offer, he didn't play at all in 2009.
You probably detected at least one or two flaws in his cunning plan:
1. Guaranteed money is fine, but unguaranteed money is still better than no money.
2. It turns out--who knew?--that clubs are even less likely to give a major league contract to a 37 year old coming off not playing baseball for a year than a 36 year old coming off a poor season.
That second thing is kind of sticky, and Jermaine can probably deduce that clubs will be even less likely than that to give a major league contract to a 38 year old who hasn't played organized baseball in two years. Which leaves his options at two: take a minor league contract, or retire. So he told Ken Rosenthal he's going to retire, which is odd since he's already de facto retired. It's a little like saying "you can't fire me - I quit!" to your boss, or telling the umpire, "you can't throw me out - I'm leaving!"
But anyway, if he doesn't want to play, good for him. Presumably he took care of some of his $75 million in career earnings, and he has his pension, so if he's made his mind up he won't lower himself to playing baseball for unguaranteed (relative) peanuts, it's his prerogative. There's a part of me that thinks he'll cave, I guess because I would; there's a part of me that is a little sad anyone would refuse to play professional baseball even for a league minimum salary. As fans we prefer to think the players love baseball as much as we do, and we would prefer to see Jermaine Dye take a minor league deal just because he wants to keep on playing.
But we can't understand Jermaine Dye at all, of course. He's been there and done that. He's had a magnificent major league career, he's won a world championship--and a World Series MVP award, even--he's played 14 seasons and done just about everything there is to be done. Perhaps he'll regret not going back for one or two more seasons when he's 50 or 60, but hell, every one of us has some regrets when we're 50 or 60. If Dye doesn't back down and take the minor league deal, then best of luck to him in whatever else he pursues.