Jul 1, 2009, 8:55 AM EDT
After watching Mariano Rivera make people look foolish for fifteen years it’s impossible to picture him in another uniform, but that almost came to pass once upon a time:
In 1995 [Gene Michael] considered trading Rivera to the Tigers for
David Wells. At the time Rivera was still trying to make it as a
starter, still throwing in the low 90s, and when Michael asked the
Tigers what they would want in a deal for Wells, Rivera was one of the
names they put on a list.
The thing about it is that, in 1995 anyway, everyone on the planet
would have considered that a steal for the Yankees. Wells was 10-3 with
a 3.04 ERA in half a season for the Tigers that year. Rivera was a
project of a starting pitcher who really only had one pitch in his
repertoire. Still does, of course, but no one knew how good a pitch it
For the record, the Tigers ended up getting C.J. Nitkowski, Mark
Lewis and something called “David Tuttle” for Wells. When Wells
eventually did come to the Yankees, they only had to give up $12
million or so for him the first time and $5.5 million the second time.
In salary, anyway. I can only assume he doubled that expense in per
diems, antacids, plumbing expenses, Gold Bond powder and stuff like
Still, a much better deal than having to part with Mo.