November 18, 2010
The New York Yankees created this monster called Derek Jeter(notes). Though he is one of the top shortstops of the era, he always has exuded intangible qualities the Yankees love to heap on their best players.
Well, they did double and triple heaps with Jeter.
Yahoo! Sports' own Jeff Passan just wrote about this, his "Jeterness," and how the Yankees will pony up for their thoroughbred in his first experience as a free agent.
Only now, the Yankees are complaining because Jeter didn't take their first offer.
ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews has a source "with ties to both the team and the player" who says at least one person in the Yankees' front office wants to play hardball with the Captain after he turned down $63 million over three years:
"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?"
Hilarious! Sounds like Hank Steinbrenner (whom the Yankees don't really let talk on the record anymore), though the next person quoted in Matthews' story was team president Randy Levine.
He was little more equivocal.
"Derek Jeter is a great Yankee and he's a great player," [Levine] said. "With that said and done, now is a different negotiation than 10 years ago."
Oh, I see. The Yankees cultivate Jeter's image — hand him a generous $189 million contract 10 years ago; name him captain in 2003; let him keep his position and make Alex Rodriguez(notes) switch to third base in '04 despite being the superior defensive shortstop; then tear up A-Rod's contract to give him more money — and they get all chilly when Jeter comes back to the pay window?
Jeter made $22.6 million in 2010 and apparently wants at least a four-year deal near that rate. That would take him to 40 years old, with declining range and nowhere to go on the infield. But what's A-Rod gonna do? Go back to short?
Whatever, it's not my money or roster.
But the Yankees make me laugh; they created the Jeter legend, putting him in a class with Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, et al. Yeah,
Hank Steinbrenner the anonymous source is right in a sense; would a team like the Reds be able, or even interested, in paying Jeter $21 million? Probably not (although, as our illustration points out, he would get to wear No. 2 in Cincy).
This might mean a leverage problem for the average superstar on the free-agent market. But we're not talking about your average superstar. This is the legendary Derek Jeter, Yankees captain. What, you think he won a Gold Glove for his defense?
Reputations cost money. And the Yankees will pay.
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