In a recent piece on Derek Jeter’s contract negotiations with the Yankees, ESPN New York’s Wally Matthews claims that the two parties are at odds, with Jeter supposedly turning down a generous three-year offer at $21 million a year.
Anyhow, Matthews quotes an anonymous source “inside the Yankees’ hierarchy” who is “urging the front office to play hard ball with Jeter”:
“Tell him the deal is three years at $15 million a year, take it or leave it,” the person taking the hard-line approach said. “Wait him out and he’ll wind up taking it. Where’s he gonna go, Cincinnati?”
My guess is that the source is Hank Steinbrenner — remember his line wondering whether A-Rod wanted to be a Yankee or a Toledo Mud Hen? And Big League Stew’s David Brown thought the same thing as me about Hammerin’ Hank being the source.
Yankee team president Randy Levine seemed to be speaking a tough stance, saying yesterday:
“Derek Jeter is a great Yankee and he’s a great player,” said Levine. “With that said and done, now is a different negotiation than 10 years ago.”
Anyhow, shows you the Bizarro World we’re in, that giving a 36-year-old shortstop $21 million a year is somehow deemed an insult, even though his actual value last year, according to Fangraphs, was just $9.8 million. (Incidentally, for those who make the inevitable comparison with the Yankees breaking the bank for A-Rod after 2007, Rodriguez had the best hitting season by a Yankee in 50 years; his value that season, according to Fangraphs, was $37.7 million. As ridiculous it was to give Rodriguez a ten-year contract, he was coming off two MVP seasons in the previous three years.)
It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens. I’ve heard a lot of fans say “just give Jeter whatever he wants.” But where does it end? If the captain is Mr. Team, Mr. Yankee, how much do the the Yankees have to overpay him in order to show that they value him?
I’ve also heard his 3,000 hit record, which he should achieve sometime in the first half of next year’s season, as another reason to keep him on. That makes sense, but it is funny to hear the same people who said for years that Jeter was about intangibles and team, not about so-called “stat-padding” individual numbers, all of a sudden get excited about individual milestones with Jeter.
The conventional wisdom has been that the longer this contract negotiation drags out, the worse the Yankees will look. I think it will be the opposite. For one thing, what are Jeter’s negotiating options — is there some other team out there willing to pay him more than $21 million a year? Doubtful.
As for Cincinnati, given that the Reds declined a $4 million option on Orlando Cabrera, the 35-year-old shortstop, don’t think that they’re actually a realistic option for Jeter, either.
What do you think? Tell us about it!