Blog Entry

Rivera: The trade that never happened

Posted on: June 30, 2009 2:24 pm
 
Fourteen years later, the memories are a little fuzzy.

But Joe Klein can still recall the conversation he had with Gene Michael in late July 1995. Klein was the Tigers' general manager then, and Michael was the Yankees GM. Michael wanted David Wells from the Tigers, and Klein proposed a deal for Mariano Rivera, then a rookie starter with the Yanks.

"I told Stick, 'Let's just make this easy, and do it even up,' " said Klein, who now runs the independent Atlantic League.

Klein said Michael was intrigued, but didn't say yes right away. He asked Klein to get back to him before trading Wells elsewhere.

"I told him I couldn't do that, but that I wouldn't make any more calls right away, and I'd give him some time," Klein said.

Michael told the New York Daily News that the way he remembered it, Rivera was in the minor leagues at the time, and his velocity jumped from the low 90s to 95-96 mph. That can't be exactly right, because Rivera was in the Yankees' big-league rotation at the time Wells was dealt.

In any case, Michael didn't call back, and Klein traded Wells to the Reds for C.J. Nitkowski, Mark Lewis and Dave Tuttle.

And, of course, Rivera remained with the Yankees, became a closer, and went on to 500 saves.

"We would have [made the trade]," Klein said. "Tiger fans, I'm telling you, we would have done it."

But would they have made Rivera a reliever?

"I'd like to think we'd have thought of it," Klein said. "But he could have been a Hall of Famer as a starter, too. Who knows?"
Category: MLB
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