Posts Tagged ‘Derek Jeter’

For the first time since 1996, Derek Jeter has something to prove during spring training. After suffering the worst season of his career, followed by a stinging offseason contract negotiation, Jeter seems to be approaching 2011 with just a little bit extra determination. Never one to lack confidence, the Yankee Captain will undoubtedly be motivated to prove his detractors wrong.

Will Jeter be able to overcome the hurdles that history places before him?

Reporting early to spring training isn’t uncommon for Jeter, who owns a Tampa home that is close to Steinbrenner Field. However, the shortstop has been in the swing of things, literally, since just after the New Year. At the end of January, Jeter even went so far as to meet with hitting coach Kevin Long. In what was described as a three-day tutorial, the future Hall of Famer worked with Long on a few minor adjustments to his stride at the plate.

Although many view Jeter as a touch stubborn, he has been open to making adjustments in the past. Despite winning gold gloves from 2004 to 2006, Jeter’s defensive statistics were in steady decline during that period. Even scouts started to whisper about a noticeably slower first step. Then, in 2007, he turned in his worst season in the field; not only was his UZR/150 an abysmal -17.9, but his declining range had become evident to the untrained eye. So, heading into the 2008 season, Jeter adopted a new training regime designed to improve his flexibility in the field. And, sure enough, his defense registered an immediate improvement. In 2009, Jeter’s UZR/150, a stat that had never been kind to him, registered an impressive 8.0. This time, when Jeter won the gold glove, there weren’t many snickers.

The Yankees hope that Jeter’s adjustments with Long will pay the same dividends at the plate. Although it wouldn’t be wise to bet against Jeter’s determination, the fact remains that the soon-to-be 37-year old shortstop is entering unchartered territory. For starters, since 1901, there have only been 14 seasons in which a shortstop over the age of 36 played at least 140 games at the position. In other words, Jeter’s first challenge will simply be to stay in the lineup (and the Yankees’ challenge will be to make sure he gets needed rest). Interestingly, as Jeter chases his milestone 3,000th hit in 2011, he could actually be making history just by taking the field.

Players with At Least 140 Games at Shortstop, Age 37 or Older, 1901-Present

Player G Year Age Tm PA BA OBP SLG OPS+
Dave Concepcion 155 1985 37 CIN 620 0.252 0.314 0.330 78
Omar Vizquel 153 2006 39 SFG 659 0.295 0.361 0.389 93
Omar Vizquel 152 2005 38 SFG 651 0.271 0.341 0.350 82
Maury Wills 149 1971 38 LAD 654 0.281 0.323 0.329 91
Luke Appling 149 1946 39 CHW 659 0.309 0.384 0.378 117
Dave Bancroft 149 1928 37 BRO 591 0.247 0.326 0.303 66
Omar Vizquel 148 2004 37 CLE 651 0.291 0.353 0.388 99
Larry Bowa 147 1983 37 CHC 544 0.267 0.312 0.339 78
Rabbit Maranville 146 1929 37 BSN 634 0.284 0.344 0.366 80
Omar Vizquel 145 2007 40 SFG 575 0.246 0.305 0.316 61
Honus Wagner 145 1912 38 PIT 634 0.324 0.395 0.496 144
Bill Dahlen 144 1908 38 BSN 588 0.239 0.296 0.307 94
Bill Dahlen 143 1907 37 NYG 529 0.207 0.291 0.254 69
Luke Appling 142 1949 42 CHW 619 0.301 0.439 0.394 125

Source: Baseball-reference.com

From a performance perspective, only 12 shortstops (players appearing at the position in at least 80% of total games) in 23 seasons compiled a WAR higher than Jeter’s 1.3 total in 2010. In other words, simply improving a little from 2010 would be considered historically significant. 

Shortstops, Age 37 or Older, with a WAR of 1.3 or Greater, 1901-Present

Player WAR Year Age Tm G PA BA OBP SLG OPS+
Honus Wagner 8.1 1912 38 PIT 145 634 0.324 0.395 0.496 144
Luke Appling 5.3 1946 39 CHW 149 659 0.309 0.384 0.378 117
Luke Appling 4.6 1949 42 CHW 142 619 0.301 0.439 0.394 125
Honus Wagner 4.5 1915 41 PIT 156 625 0.274 0.325 0.422 126
Ozzie Smith 4.3 1992 37 STL 132 590 0.295 0.367 0.342 105
Bill Dahlen 3.9 1908 38 BSN 144 588 0.239 0.296 0.307 94
Luke Appling 3.8 1947 40 CHW 139 572 0.306 0.386 0.412 125
Omar Vizquel 3.1 2006 39 SFG 153 659 0.295 0.361 0.389 99
Omar Vizquel 3.1 2004 37 CLE 148 651 0.291 0.353 0.388 93
Honus Wagner 2.9 1913 39 PIT 114 454 0.3 0.349 0.385 113
Larry Bowa 2.7 1983 37 CHC 147 544 0.267 0.312 0.339 78
Honus Wagner 2.7 1914 40 PIT 150 616 0.252 0.317 0.317 92
Ozzie Smith 2.5 1993 38 STL 141 603 0.288 0.337 0.356 88
Pee Wee Reese 2.5 1956 37 BRO 147 648 0.257 0.322 0.344 74
Luis Aparicio 2.3 1973 39 BOS 132 561 0.271 0.324 0.309 75
R. Maranville 2.3 1929 37 BSN 146 634 0.284 0.344 0.366 80
Maury Wills 2 1971 38 LAD 149 654 0.281 0.323 0.329 91
Omar Vizquel 1.9 2005 38 SFG 152 651 0.271 0.341 0.350 82
Ozzie Smith 1.9 1994 39 STL 98 433 0.262 0.326 0.349 78
Luis Aparicio 1.9 1972 38 BOS 110 474 0.257 0.299 0.351 88
Monte Cross 1.7 1907 37 PHA 77 301 0.206 0.316 0.282 89
Omar Vizquel 1.4 2007 40 SFG 145 575 0.246 0.305 0.316 61
Billy Jurges 1.3 1946 38 CHC 82 270 0.222 0.351 0.281 82

Source: Baseball-reference.com

One thing evident from the chart above is that most of the positive WAR contributions stemmed from defense, which is at least a small cause for concern. Even in his best defensive seasons, Jeter, unlike Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel for example, has primarily been known for his hitting. What’s more, WAR can be somewhat unreliable when it comes to measuring defense, so using it as the basis for this comparison can be misleading. Instead, it seems more appropriate to isolate the offensive contribution of shortstops in the tail end of their careers.

Shortstops, Age 37 or Older, with Positive Rbat, 1901-Present

Player Rbat  Year Age Tm G PA BA OBP SLG
Honus Wagner 34 1912 38 PIT 145 634 0.324 0.395 0.496
Luke Appling 23 1949 42 CHW 142 619 0.301 0.439 0.394
Luke Appling 15 1946 39 CHW 149 659 0.309 0.384 0.378
Luke Appling 14 1947 40 CHW 139 572 0.306 0.386 0.412
Honus Wagner 11 1915 41 PIT 156 625 0.274 0.325 0.422
Honus Wagner 10 1913 39 PIT 114 454 0.300 0.349 0.385
Luke Appling 8 1945 38 CHW 18 70 0.368 0.478 0.526
Omar Vizquel 3 2006 39 SFG 153 659 0.295 0.361 0.389
Ozzie Smith 3 1992 37 STL 132 590 0.295 0.367 0.342
Eddie Joost 2 1953 37 PHA 51 224 0.249 0.401 0.384
Omar Vizquel 1 2004 37 CLE 148 651 0.291 0.353 0.388
Bobby Wallace 1 1915 41 SLB 9 18 0.231 0.444 0.385

Note: Rbat is defined as “the number of runs better or worse than average the player was as a hitter.”
Source: Baseball-reference.com

As you can see, only two shortstops in the history of baseball were able to contribute meaningfully on offense after their 37th birthday. Over the course of his career, Jeter has been about 21 runs better than the average hitter, so attaining that standard doesn’t seem likely. Even reaching the half way point on that barometer would be historically unique.

Before Yankees’ fans fret too much over the daunting history that stands before Jeter’s potential rebound, it’s worth pointing out that he isn’t just a normal player. Although he may never again attain the high standards set over his career, those hoping for a rebound can take some solace from knowing that fellow Hall of Fame shortstops Honus Wagner and Luke Appling were able to keep piling up strong seasons as they approached the age of 40. Obviously, that would put Jeter in the truly elite class, which, after all, is exactly where he belongs.

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Derek Jeter and the Yankees re-consummated their relationship with a somewhat awkward press conference today at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Despite calmly admitting that he was “angry” about the public nature of the process (as only Jeter could), the Yankees shortstop reiterated his dedication to the organization and described all involved parties as “one big happy family”.

Today’s reunion was strange to say the least, particularly because such an inevitable outcome seemed to create so many improbable storylines. For whatever reason, many in the media and the Yankees’ fan base seized upon the slow pace of the negotiations to denigrate, ridicule and vilify the team’s Hall of Fame shortstop, thanks in no small part to the curiously public comments of Brian Cashman and ownership. As a result, the press conference welcoming Jeter back almost had the feeling of a reverse parable, with the Yankees’ organization playing the role of the prodigal son. After all, Jeter never left and never intended to, but the Yankees did stray from what should be the organization’s policy of holding its legacy in only the highest of regard.

It was impossible to look at Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner sitting at the dais and not think they probably felt a little bit guilty. Some of the reporters sitting in the audience probably felt the same way, not to mention a vocal segment of the fan base that seemed quick to turn on Jeter. All’s well that ends well, however, so, break out the robes, rings and sandals, and slaughter the fattened calf. The prodigal among us have returned to the fold, rejoining the Captain, who never left.

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According to Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times Bats Blog, the Yankees and Derek Jeter are close to a three-year agreement that will include a “highly unusual” and “creative hybrid-type option”. In his post, Schmidt includes the words “for a fourth year”, but doesn’t attribute them to his source. So, maybe the creative option doesn’t have anything to do with an extension of the contract? Either way, below are three guesses at what the deal’s creative addendum might be.

1)      A mutual option based on performance in the first three years

Assuming the two sides could agree to a formula, the value Jeter provided during the contract could be evaluated against the money paid to him. In other words, if the formula determined Jeter provided $40 million in value, it would be subtracted from the rumored $52 million contract total. Then, that $12 million difference would be used to fund a fourth year, which might be predetermined at something like $25 million (the annual value of Jeter’s rumored first request). As a result of the math, the Yankees would then have the option of paying Jeter $13 million in 2014. If they declined the option, a percentage buyout could be included. Similarly, if Jeter outperformed his contract, the amount would be added to the same $25 million starting point, but with a higher percentage buyout included if the Yankees declined. In both cases, negotiated minimums and maximums could be determined. Also, the contract could include conditions under which Jeter would be able to opt out of the fourth year.

Highly Unusual? Yes. Creative? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

2)      An option to buy part of the team upon retirement

As mentioned above, there is no confirmation that the “ creative option” involves a fourth year. So, why not offer Jeter the chance to become an owner?

Baseball rules prohibit active players from owning equity in a major league franchise, but what about a future invitation to buy a stake? If permissible, the “creative option” would give Jeter the right to acquire a specified interest in the team at pre-determined cost. Considering the exponential way the Yankees’ value has been increasing, such an option would be highly attractive to the business-minded Jeter, even if the eventual sale price is close to market value. From the Yankees’ perspective, having Jeter become a limited partner would not only provide some cash flow, but also ensure an even closer association with the team than might otherwise be expected (i.e., more than just throwing out first pitches and attending Old Timers Day).

3)      A personal services contract upon retirement

Just in case option #2 is against major league rules, the Yankees could accomplish a similar end by transitioning Jeter to an “employee” when his playing days are over.

One of the arguments made by the Jeter camp is his “brand value” should be incorporated into the value of his new contract. The Yankees have argued that to build a winner, its focus must remain on the field. So, why not compromise and offer to compensate Jeter for the value he adds to the business side…but hold off on most of it until he is finished playing? Whether it’s a 10-year, 20-year or lifetime deal, the advantage of the personal services contract is it wouldn’t count as payroll and therefore not be calculated against the luxury tax. Also, if it includes work done for YES, the Yankees’ partners in the venture would share the cost.

Thankfully, the two sides have replaced the intrigue about whether a deal would get done with how it will be structured. The solutions mentioned above are probably too unusual to actually be considered, but who knows. Your guess (feel free to leave one in the comments section below) is as good as mine.

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The Yankees and future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera have agreed to a two-year deal worth $30 million. According to some reports, Rivera actually turned down a more lucrative deal from either the Angels or, of all teams, the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox reportedly extended an offer to make Mariano Rivera a permanent fixture at Fenway Park.

The knee jerk assumption is that the Red Sox offer was merely a means to drive up the price on the Yankees, and that very well could be the case. If you really think about it, however, stealing Mo would have struck the perfect blow and dramatically shifted the balance of power in the AL East, especially because the Yankees currently have no alternative and the market is void of an adequate replacement. From Boston’s perspective, it could have offset some of Rivera’s contract by trading Jonathan Papelbon, who is on schedule for another raise above his $9.4 million salary as he prepares for a big free agent contract next offseason. Even at Rivera’s advanced age, it isn’t a stretch to think he’ll out perform Papelbon over the next three years, so having him hold the spot for Bard would have represented the best of both worlds for Boston. And, if Papelbon’s poor 2010 was more systemic than an aberration, the benefit increases exponentially. What’s more, by trading Papelbon, the Red Sox could have netted significant prospects, whom they then could have used to pry Justin Upton away from the Diamondbacks.

Another factor to consider is the psychological blow that would have been inflicted upon the Yankees. Rivera has truly been a one-of-a-kind closer, so even with time to prepare, the organization is going to struggle during the transition to a mere a mortal. Now, imagine the panic if Rivera’s valuable right arm was suddenly removed from the team and placed in the bullpen at Fenway Park?  With Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner sounding more and more like Red Sox’ executives who have driven away countless team legends (from Carlton Fisk to Wade Boggs to Roger Clemens to Pedro Martinez and then some), maybe Theo Epstein thought Rivera might be ripe for the picking? If any team knows about the overarching impact of losing a legend to your rival, it’s the Red Sox.

Because Rivera decided to turn down a larger offer from Boston (kind of like Bernie Williams did after the 1998 season), his loyalty is likely to be lauded…and with good reason. Unfortunately, you can also bet many of those same people praising Rivera will use his fiscal modesty against the negotiating position of Derek Jeter, who was initially offered a three-year, $45 million deal that has reportedly been sweetened. However, the opposite side of that argument may be just as true. After all, if the Yankees are willing to pay a “41-year old closer” $15 million per year, shouldn’t they be willing to offer an everyday shortstop significantly more?

Ironically, when Mariano Rivera opted for arbitration before the 2000 season, his agent’s main argument was the All Star closer was at least as valuable as Jeter, who was earlier given a $10 million deal. The Yankees disagreed at the time, citing Jeter’s off-field economic contributions as the main reason why he was paid more money. So, unless the Yankees thinking on that has changed, the $15 million award for Rivera seems to demand that a higher figure be offered to Jeter.

Of course, one could argue that the reason Jeter’s value has declined and Rivera’s has not is because of their relative on-field performance. However, that argument is hard to make from a purely statistical standpoint. After all, despite having the worst season of his career, Jeter’s WAR was still 2.5, according to fangraphs.com. By comparison, Rivera, who had an outstanding season, checked in at only 1.7 (his best season was 3.3). Granted, WAR has many flaws for such an evaluation, but it does at least raise an interesting question. At the current stages of their careers, who provides the Yankees with more value?

Because we rely can’t rely on the stats to provide an answer, the question kind of forces us back into the realm of the psychological, or the intangible, if you will. Needless to say, that’s not a playing field the Yankees want to be on in a battle against Jeter. Presumably, these difficult to quantify elements factored into the Red Sox (or Angels) offer to Rivera, so who is to say some other team won’t do the same in a push to sign Jeter? Most observers, and even the Yankees’ front office, seem to think the Hall of Fame shortstop has no other alternative, but nothing can be gained by finding out.

Loyalty is a two-way street, and in this instance, it has led one Yankees’ legend back into the fold. Hopefully, Jeter and the organization aren’t too far down the road.

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Correction: In an earlier version of this post, a quote attributed to Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger was inaccurately transcribed by that source. Carig provided Cashman’s corrected quote (“He should be nothing but a New York Yankee, if he chooses to be”) via his twitter feed.

The Yankees’ negotiations with Derek Jeter have finally turned a little ugly, and all of the blame falls on the ill tempered tongue of Brian Cashman.

Speaking to reporters today, Cashman lobbed several verbal grenades in Jeter’s directions, despite earlier vows by the Yankees that the contract would not be negotiated in the press. At ESPNNewYork.com, Wallace Matthews quoted Cashman almost antagonistically daring Jeter to test the open market, while questioning his shortstop’s age and “recent performance of the last few years.”  Even if Jeter didn’t have one of his best seasons in 2009, it would be bad form to so openly question the future ability of a player with whom you are supposedly negotiating with in good faith.

Meanwhile, several sources quoted Cashman as saying that while the Yankees have made several offers to Jeter, only one proposal, for more money and years, has been sent in reply. So much for not negotiating in public?

Even if everything he has said is correct, Cashman’s comments this afternoon were way out of line. After all, over the last 15 years, Jeter has not only provided Yankees fans with countless thrills, but also been the epitome of what the organization is all about. Does that mean he should be given a blank check? Of course not. But, it does demand that he be treated with the utmost respect, even if it seems as if his side is being unreasonable in its demands. Comments that either denigrate Jeter or have the potential to antagonize him are not only counterproductive, but blasphemous. If the Yankees make a fair offer and Jeter refuses it, then they’ll have no need to defend their actions. However, if they continue to conduct the negotiations with a tone similar to the one taken by Cashman today, they’ll be no defense.

Whether or not you believe Jeter deserves a “life time achievement award” or compensation for “intangible value” built into his contract extension, I’d like to think every Yankee fan agrees the Captain deserves to have the negotiations handled in a respectful manner. More importantly, I’d like to think Cashman, Randy Levine, Hal Steinbrenner and the rest of the Yankees’ brass are also on board with that sentiment.  Up until this point, they haven’t seemed to be, but here’s hoping they return to a more dignified posture going forward. Otherwise, a failure to do so could wind up being the only thing that prevents a deal from getting done.

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeU.)

Derek Jeter’s contract negotiations have easily been the most widely discussed topic in Yankeeland, despite there really not being much news to report. For some reason, several media types have used the off-season lull to repeatedly denigrate Jeter to the point of portraying him as a charity case (e.g., Joel Sherman’s “I am Derek Jeter, pay me” scoff in today’s New York Post). One hopes this sentiment is merely an example of the human condition’s disposition toward kicking a man when he is down, and not evidence of the Yankees’ brass negotiating through the media. In any event, the contract talks with Jeter have proceeded slowly, which really shouldn’t be a surprise considering that it’s in the best interest of both parties to make a deal (i.e., there isn’t a third-party threat for either side that might push the negotiations along).

Since inking a deal with Jeter after the draft in 1992, it hasn't been easy for the Yankees to get his signature on a contract.

Instead of beating the same drum by looking at Jeter’s negotiations in the present day, perhaps it might be more constructive to take a look back at how the two sides have dealt with each other when talking contract in the past? So, without further ado, following is a summary of the financial path that Jeter and the Yankees have taken to reach the current situation.

In 1991, the Yankees engaged in a protracted and expensive contract negotiation with first round draft pick Brien Taylor, so it was somewhat of a surprise when the team came to a quick resolution with Jeter, who was drafted with the sixth overall pick in 1992. Only a few weeks after being selected, the young shortstop from Kalamazoo agreed to an $800,000 signing bonus just one day after his 18th birthday. The award was almost half of what was paid to Taylor.

We reached a number and didn’t feel we needed to go any higher. I hope Derek understands the significant effort this organization made to recognize his fine rookie year. But he and his agents went higher than we wanted to go and we couldn’t get it done.” – General Manager Bob Watson, New York Daily News, March 6, 1997

 In his 1996 rookie campaign, Jeter earned the minimum salary of $130,00, which turned out to be a relative bargain when the young shortstop not only won the rookie of the year award, but also helped lead the team to its first World Series championship in 18 years. Not surprisingly, the Jeter camp was in search of a sizeable raise the next season, but the Yankees initial offer of $450,000 was rejected. After gradually inching up the offer during the negotiation process, the Yankees abruptly decided to renew Jeter at the $150,000 minimum when he and agent Casey Close refused to budge from their demands. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and after a personal meeting between the shortstop and owner George Steinbrenner, an amicable deal was reached. Jeter was given a base salary of $540,000 (just $10,000 below what he was reportedly seeking) with $25,000 in combined performance bonuses ($10,000 of which was obtained).

If you get renewed, only one side agrees. I think it was big that we both agreed on it. I appreciate it.” – Derek Jeter, New York Times, March 11, 1997

In 1997, Derek Jeter had a nearly identical season to his rookie campaign, but the Yankees weren’t feeling as flexible with their young stars that offseason. While GM Brian Cashman, who took over for Bob Watson in the winter, was busy trading for All Star second baseman Chuck Knoblauch and signing international pitching star Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, there apparently wasn’t enough time to work out a contract with Jeter, who along with Mariano Rivera was renewed at a salary of $750,000.

I think we’re being generous. The last two years, we’ve gone above what was required. I think the world of [Jeter and Rivera]. I value them, and they’re family. We negotiated with the union. They have to live with it.” – George Steinbrenner, New York Times, March 6, 1998

After a historic 125 win season in 1998, the Yankees still couldn’t get on the same page with their core group of homegrown stars.  Once again, the team and Jeter were far apart on the terms of a new deal: the Yankees were offering $3.2 million, while Jeter asked for $5 million. This time, however, Jeter was eligible for arbitration, so the hammer was removed from the organization’s hand. Still, Cashman refused to accept agent Casey Close’s offer for a midpoint settlement and the dispute landed on the desk of a third-party, who sided with Jeter’s $5 million figure. The team also lost its arbitration hearing with Mariano Rivera (the following year, the Yankees settled the score by beating Rivera in a second hearing that turned out to be the Yankees’ last to this day).

I wouldn’t really say it was ugly, but no one wants to sit there and listen to a team tell you how bad you are. You think you’re doing a pretty good job and they tell you how bad you are.” – Derek Jeter, speaking about the arbitration process, New York Daily News, February 16, 1999

Just after Nomar Garciaparra signed a 4-year/$22.25 million deal in the spring of 1998, whispers about a long-term contract for Jeter began to filter into the news. In reality, as each successive contract negotiation proved, no progress toward that end had been made. In fact, despite the persistent rumors, Jeter emphatically told the New York Daily, “You read in the papers that there have been offers or we’re trying to talk, but there’s been no discussions about a long-term deal.”  

After the arbitration hearing in 1999, the media started to dwell on Jeter’s contract status. Unlike the current environment, however, the shoe was on the other foot. This time, the pundits criticized the Yankees for being short-sighted, arguing that every year that passed would only cost the team more in the long run. On November 29, 1998, the same Joel Sherman mentioned above wrote about all the reasons Jeter was worth the money he was reportedly demanding. Basically, Sherman’s argument was “ He’s Derek Jeter, pay him”.

Before the start of the 2000 season, it seemed as if the Yankees were finally going to heed the advice of those beseeching them to sign Jeter to a long-term deal. The two sides had gone so far as to establish the parameters of a seven-year, $118.5 million agreement, but late in the process Steinbrenner became reticent about topping Kevin Brown’s record $15 million salary  by paying Jeter nearly $17 million per season. As a result, the Yankees instead inked their star shortstop to a one-year deal worth $10 million. Once again, the drum beat from the press corps was the same: the Yankees would pay more in future because of their refusal to tip the scales in the present.

If [George Steinbrenner] is using the [Ken Griffey Jr.] pact as a ruler, he should remember this: If Jeter gets to free agency, Griffey’s deal is going to be obsolete. Plus Jeter, who is coming off a career year in 1999, could have a pair of MVP awards and two more World Series rings by the time 30 clubs can bid on him.” – George King, New York Post, March 26, 2000

When Jeter signed a 10-year/$189 million deal on February 10, 2001, it looked like all of the pundits were right: the Yankees’ penny wise strategy had proven to be pound foolish. Not only did the team wind up paying $2 million more in annual salary, but they also had to throw in three more years and an extra $70 million in guaranteed money. Of course, the Yankees probably couldn’t be blamed for not foreseeing the mega deal that Alex Rodriguez signed two months earlier, but nonetheless, the length and terms of the deal left many believing the team would seriously regret its decision to back away from the smaller deal that was all but in place the previous spring.

When you do a deal this important with a player as important as Derek Jeter, it’s better to get it right than rush to judgment. People would have liked it done sooner, but it’s better to be done right.” – Yankees’ President Randy Levine, New York Daily News, February 10, 2001

“I wanted to play here. I never wanted to see if the grass was greener somewhere else. I couldn’t picture myself doing it, and even if I played out the year and became a free agent, I wouldn’t have.” – Derek Jeter, New York Daily News, February 10, 2001

The two comments above were in reference to Jeter’s recently expired contract, but they could both easily apply to the current round of negotiations taking place today. Interestingly, however, had the Yankees signed that initial 7-year/$118.5 million deal, no such conversation would be taking place. Instead, Jeter’s deal would have expired after the 2006 season, which also just so happened to be one of the best of his career. A 32-year old Jeter, coming off a season in which he finished second in the MVP voting (.343/.417/.483), could have easily commanded another big money deal. After all, the 2006 season off season, which occurred before the recent market correction, featured the following overpriced deals: 8 years/$136 million for Alfonso Soriano; 7 years/$126 million for Barry Zito; and 6 years/$100 million for Carlos Lee. Based on that context, it isn’t far fetched to think Jeter could have signed another 7-year deal worth around $154 million.

Based on the previous assumption, it seems as if the Yankees decision to hold off on signing a contract extension in 2000 actually paid off in the long run. So much for the wisdom of all those pundits? Of course, the final verdict on that decision won’t come until an agreement is reached this offseason. If Jeter acquiesces to the Yankees’ current 3-year, $45 million proposal (Scenario A), the Yankees will wind up coming out ahead by almost $40 million (without factoring in inflation as well as time value). However, if the terms of the new deal are closer to 4 years at $80 million (Scenario B), the difference would be a virtual wash. In that case, the Yankees would have probably been better off giving Jeter his new deal back in 2006, when there would likely have been less acrimony, especially with George Steinbrenner still involved in the process.

 Scenario A Amount Years Annual Salary
2000 Reported Proposal $118,500,000 7 $16,928,571
2007 Estimated Contract $154,000,000 7 $22,000,000
Total $272,500,000 14 $19,464,286
Actual 2001 Contract $189,000,000 10 $18,900,000
2011 Reported Proposal $45,000,000 3 $15,000,000
Total $234,000,000 13 $18,000,000


Scenario B Amount Years Annual Salary
2000 Reported Proposal $118,500,000 7 $16,928,571
2007 Estimated Contract $154,000,000 7 $22,000,000
Total $272,500,000 14 $19,464,286
Actual 2001 Contract $189,000,000 10 $18,900,000
2011 Reported Demand $80,000,000 4 $20,000,000
Total $269,000,000 14 $19,214,286

Although Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees have enjoyed a strong relationship through the years, the facts show that they haven’t always been on the same page when discussing money. If that was the case when Jeter was still in his prime, should we be surprised that they are still disagreeing on “value” at the end of his career? As both sides have repeated numerous times throughout the years, baseball is a business. So, instead of getting all hot and bothered over an ongoing negotiation that is likely to culminate in an agreement, it makes much more sense to simply let business takes its course. If the two sides do eventually decide to part ways, they’ll still be plenty of time to assign blame.

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