Jeter and Rivera have always been connected through this Yankees run, which began when the two of them made their full-season debuts in 1996. Rivera, though, was nearly traded prior to the 1996 season.
“It was close,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said.
Rivera had pitched well in the 1995 playoffs, but the Yankees came in with big expectations. Jeter, slated to be the rookie starting shortstop, had an uneven spring training and George Steinbrenner was losing patience.
“There were some people in George’s circle who raised some concern about whether Jeter was going to be ready or not,” Cashman said.
The Yankees really had no backup plan if Jeter couldn’t handle short as a rookie. Tony Fernandez and Pat Kelly both got hurt. The Yankees had serious discussions about trading Rivera to the Seattle Mariners for Felix Fermin.
“Fortunately, we didn’t do that deal,” Cashman said. “The Boss backed down and made us go through the fire drill and that was as close as we ever came to trading Mariano.”