As Derek Jeter Week stretches into Week 2, more and more folks are sharing stories, including a journeyman outfielder you never heard of: Matt Diaz.
Diaz was in the twilight of his baseball career when he signed a minor-league deal with the New York Yankees in December 2012 and got invited to spring training. It didn't work out between him and New York, however, and he was released by the team on March 17, 2013.
Diaz has an interesting (tongue-in-cheek) theory on why it didn't work out, and it has to do with his commitment to winning. Diaz appeared on MLB Network radio on Monday and divulged that in the process of getting to know his teammate Derek Jeter, he let it slip that, once he had children, his priorities shifted and all of a sudden winning was not as important to him as it had been. The next day, GM Brian Cashman released him.
Diaz is very self-deprecating here and the story is obviously meant as an example of what teammates liked about Jeter, but also…maybe he's not kidding? Jeter's defining characteristic was his tunnel vision when it came to winning. He was a less (outwardly, anyway) psychotic Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant in that respect.
To that end, here is Jeets telling YES Network that he put off starting a family because his career came first:
Sure, Jeter respects his teammates for doing something he was either unable or unwilling to do. The good teammates, anyway. But what if a guy was expendable? What if you could swap a journeyman outfielder with three kids and ZERO commitment to winning for an All-Star outfielder with 260 career home runs, a .270/.319/.459 slashline, and a career 104 OPS+? You're the Captain—you'd be calling up the GM ASAP, right?
So the Yankees traded for Vernon Wells shortly after releasing Diaz.