Well, I have finally figured it all out when it comes to the New York Yankees and Derek Jeter.
It took me a while but I now think I have it. Yankee fans, relax. Jeter is going to be in pinstripes.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is in Tampa, FL, at this time meeting with Jeter’s agent, Casey Close.
Today we also learned that Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said “I am confident that Derek will remain with the Yankees, and my brother does, as well.”
I was a mystified why the Yankees initially offered Jeter a three-year contract worth $15 million a season. It seemed like a very cold and calculated attempt to trim payroll for a mega-dollar bidding war for Cliff Lee at Jeter’s expense.
They also seemed to be playing off the knowledge that age 36, Jeter likely would not receive another offer in that range given his off year in 2010. Teams also know Jeter would never envision himself in any other uniform.
So the agent Close and Jeter had to make a choice. Do they swallow pride and accept a lower offer or try to push the Yankees to the brink by entertaining an offer from the California Angels to up the ante?
Jeter reportedly was seeking a four- or five-year deal worth $23 million to $25 million. Jeter haters have come out in droves in pointing out he is not worth it. They point to his struggles in 2010 with his batting average and to hear them talk he has the range in the field of a Maytag range.
Funny, I did not hear all this hysteria when Cal Ripken hit .270 with 19 home runs and 84 RBIs in 1997 at age 37. Ripken would play four more seasons and he never hit more than 18 home runs and drove in more than 68 runs in any of them. I doubt seriously his range at third improved either.
But the Orioles paid him a decent wage because he was not only an icon in baseball. He meant everything to the city of Baltimore and the franchise. He was the face of it. Where have the Orioles gone since he retired after the 2001 season?
But the haters can rail all they want. Jeter, just like Ripken, is a shoo-in first-ballot Hall of Famer. All you have to know is that Jeter is still well ahead of Pete Rose’s pace of hits and Rose is the all-time leader in hits. That punches his ticket right there.
I think I have a clue to how the negotiations are going to wind up. It will involve a little math but indulge me.
Jeter wants $23 million, at the very least. The Yankees are offering $15. Jeter is coming off a 10-year deal that paid him $189 million. (I wonder of the Jeter haters really think he did NOT earn that. Oh well, who really cares?)
Now what is the midpoint between $23 million and $15 million? Hmmm, that would be $19 million. So look for the Yankees and Close to zero in on that number and the Yankees will accept it if Jeter agrees to sign for just three years.
So look for a three-year deal in the range of $19 million per season. The Yankees hold payroll because they are not paying Jeter any more. Close can argue that his client did not have to take a pay cut to stay home.
The three years also buys the Yankees some time to evaluate 22-year-old phenom Eduardo Nunez. There is a good chance that after Jorge Posada spends his last season in pinstripes as the Yankees’ primary DH to accommodate Jesus Montero, the Yankees might see 2012 as the chance to insert Nunez at shortstop and make Jeter the primary DH.
Should Jeter wish to remain with the Yankees to go after Rose’a all-time hit mark, there is good chance the DH spot will be his likely ticket. The outfield is a possibility, too. But it is not real likely with Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson around.
But, wherever Jeter plays in the field or hits in the batting order, the important thing is he will get the chance to finish his career where he belongs and where is he is worth the most. The 2011 season may be last for the vaunted “Core Four.”
I have a feeling with Jeter manning shortstop, Posada at DH, Andy Pettitte on the mound and Mariano Rivera in the bullpen, it will be a fitting conclusion if they add another World Series title to their collection.
Yankees fans would not want it any other way. You guys feeling any better?