Now that Yankees GM Brian Cashman has basically dared Derek Jeter to go out and see what kind of market there is for his services, there is all sorts of speculation that he could jump ship, swim across the river and wash ashore in Flushing. It’s not likely to happen for several reasons, but let’s take a look at it anyway.
First off, the Mets are pretty well set at shortstop with Jose Reyes. Even if they were to trade him, would the Mets spend their limited payroll flexibility on a $15 million shortstop with declining skills? Probably not.
Now, if Jeter (left, with future teammate? David Wright) is willing or able to play second base, and might take, say $10 million per year, it might well be worth it. His salary would probably pay for itself by way of ticket and jersey sales. And it would be a nice “screw you” to our friendly neighbors in The Bronx.
Jeter could justify it by saying, “Look, the Yankees didn’t want me, but I wanted to stay loyal to New York, so I am joining the Mets.”
I agree with Jeter’s agent Casey Close when he said he was “baffled” by the Yankees negotiating tactics. The Yankees seem to throw around money to everyone, but when it comes to the face of the franchise, the modern day Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle rolled into one, suddenly the purse strings are snapped shut.
Compare this to the Alex Rodriguez negotiations. After A-Rod famously opted out of his contract during the 2007 World Series, the Yankees said, “So long. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.” Rodriguez went out to see what the market for him was, and there wasn’t much. So he went back to the Yankees on his knees, without Scott Boras, and begged for a contract. The Yankees responded with 10-years, $275 million, wrapping up A-Rod through his 42nd birthday.
Knowing there was virtually no market for him, the Yankees probably could have offered $20 million for five years and he would have taken it. Instead, they did what they did — for a player the fans hated then, and still have mixed feelings about.
Yes, the Jeter negotiations are different. Jeter is not the player A-Rod is. A-Rod was 31 when he signed the contract; Jeter is 36. But they were willing to tie up Rodriguez until he is 42. They are only filling to go to 39 for their franchise player. They reportedly offered him $15 million per year, a pay cut of nearly $4 million per year.
Now don’t get me wrong — $15 million for a middle infielder on the downside of his career is a fair offer. But this is Derek Jeter, a Yankee legend, not just some run-of-the-mill shortstop. The Yankees need to show him more respect for what he’s done for the franchise. Jeter reportedly wants six years. That’s too much, in my opinion. I think a four-year, $80 million contract is appropriate.
That’s a whole lot of money, yes. But with the way the Yankees throw money around to medicore talent (A.J. Burnett, Carl Pavano,Kei Igawa, do I really need to go on?), they should give some extra cash to a player who has actually earned it.