Jim Leyritz Says Yankees Nearly Traded Jorge Posada for Ivan Rodriguez


It’s been widely reported that Derek Jeter struggled with his future after a difficult first full pro season in 1993, and that Mariano Rivera was nearly traded for Felix Fermin after Jeter had a less-than-stellar spring training in 1996 when the Yankees’ shortstop job was his for the taking.

Apparently, though, the Yankees almost lost another member of their vaunted Core Four right as the dynasty years were beginning.

“In 1997 I was with the Angels, and they were trading me to Texas on July 30, with (right-handed pitcher) Kenny Hill going to Anaheim,” former Yankees catcher Jim Leyritz told Evan Roberts during an appearance on WFAN’s Benigno and Roberts Show on Thursday. “There was a second part of the deal, where (then-Rangers catcher) Pudge Rodriguez was being traded to the New York Yankees for Jorge Posada.”

The statement drew an audible “wow” from Evan before Leyritz, who hit an unforgettable momentum-changing home run late in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series to help begin the Yankees dynasty, continued by revealing exactly how he, as he put it, “did a big favor to create the dynasty even after I left” in regards to the second part of the deal getting called off.

“When Pudge found out that I was coming and he was on his way out – he didn’t want to leave Texas, but he wouldn’t sign the free agent contract they were offering,” Leyritz said, “but he showed up the next day and said, ‘okay, I’ll sign.’ And then I showed up in Texas and said, ‘wait a minute, I thought I was going to be the catcher here!’ And that changed everything.”

Leyritz and a player to be named later (which ended up being utility man Rob Sasser) were indeed dealt to Anaheim for Hill, and the other trade being nixed worked out okay for both sides, as Rodriguez went on to win an AL MVP with the Rangers and Posada became a huge part of the Yankees’ dynasty.

And, of course, in a whirlwind of serendipity, all three catchers ended up in pinstripes at some point; Leyritz spent parts of 1999 and 2000 back in the Bronx, and when Posada was lost for the season in 2008, the Yankees’ search for a short-term replacement led them to…Rodriguez, who was acquired from Detroit on July 30 of that year.

“It’s funny, because I remember when Pudge was traded to the Yankees, he told the story to the press and said, ‘I could’ve been here 10 years earlier,’” Leyritz laughed.