Earlier this week word got out an ownership group led by future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter and former Florida governor Jeb Bush had placed the winning bid for the Miami Marlins at auction. . The Bush-Jeter group is working to secure financing and will then need approval from MLB and the other owners before the sale is final.
The Marlins are of course currently owned by Jeffrey Loria, a native New Yorker who grew up a Yankees fan. It was no coincidence he hired Don Mattingly to manage his club. Loria had such admiration for the Yankees that after becoming managing general partner of the Montreal Expos in 1999, he instructed then-GM Jim Beattie to call the Yankees and work out a trade for Derek Jeter, even if it meant giving up prized young outfielder Vladimir Guerrero.
"Mr. Loria really wanted Jeter,'' said Beattie, a former pitcher for the Yankees, who now is a scout for the Blue Jays. "I kept telling him it wasn't going to happen and he said 'Well, you have to make the call.' I called (Yankees GM Brian Cashman) at a point I said 'Jeffrey is really interested in Jeter.' Cash said 'No, we're not going to trade.' I said I understand that, just for conversation and I'm not even sure we would do this, would you trade him for Guerrero?
"There was silence on the other end. He said 'Would you do that?' Cash said, `That's a crazy offer but I'm just not going to trade him. He is a franchise player for us and we're not going to trade him.' You could try to trade for him, but they weren't going to trade him. Yeah, there was an effort.''
At the time of these trade discussions, Jeter was 25 years old and coming off what very well may have been his finest season. He hit .349/.438/.552 (153 OPS+) with a career-high 24 home runs and an MLB-leading 219 hits in 1999. Jeter had also just guided the Yankees to their second straight World Series championship and third in the last four years.
Guerrero, on the other hand, had just turned 25 himself, and was coming off a season in which he hit .316/.378/.600 (146 OPS+) with 42 home runs. He and Jeter were both great players, and they're both going to be in the Hall of Fame one day, I believe. (Guerrero fell only 15 votes short of induction last season.) This would have been a blockbuster. The mother of all blockbusters.
What would be an equivalent trade today? Gosh, that's tough to answer. Perhaps something along the lines of Carlos Correa for Mookie Betts? Or Francisco Lindor for Kris Bryant? Corey Seager for Mike Trout? Young superstar for young superstar, basically. Those trades never happen, understandably, but boy, they sure are fun to think about, aren't they?
Loria was never able to pry Jeter lose from the Yankees. He'll have to settle for selling his franchise to him for billions of dollars.