Pretend for a moment that you are the general manager of a Major League Baseball team. You have a bunch of money coming off the books this offseason, and your job is simple: Get your team to the World Series.
As you enter the offseason, you have your priorities. In your particular situation, you need a shortstop. Your organization has some young prospects who could be successful in the future, but thus far have not done much and may not be ready. So, you look to the free agent market for the answer.
You don’t have many options. The best seems to be a 36-year old veteran who won the Rookie of the Year in 1996 and is an 11-time All-star. He has played 16 solid seasons in the big leagues, putting together a .314 batting average and almost 3,000 hits. His contract with the Detroit Tigers is expired, and you just may try to haul him in.
You’re thinking about this choice. Yes, he is a solid player, but he is coming off a horrible season where he hit .270, and he looks to be on the decline. You don’t have any more options, however. Thus, you sign him to a one-year, $3 million deal. The deal makes sense, and the offseason continues.
In case you haven’t figured it out, that situation was meant to resemble the New York Yankees 2010-2011 offseason. The player described was Derek Jeter. All the stats were true except for one: He was not a Detroit Tiger, he was a New York Yankee.
As you were reading, you probably thought it would have made sense. Usually, veterans at the end of their career have deals similar to the one-year, $3 million deal mentioned. The case with Jeter is different, however, and it is all because of that one fact that I changed.
What this means is simple: The Yankees are going to sign Jeter because of his value as a Yankee, not because of his value as a player. If the Yankees were to offer him a one-year deal, it would be outrageous. It’s probably what a player in his situation deserves, but it is not at all realistic.
Rather, he is going to get a multi-year deal worth about $15 million a year, the kind of money top players make on most teams.
Why will he make so much? What makes him different from Ken Griffey Jr., who had over 600 career home runs but still had to sign small, one-year deals?
It’s simple: Jeter makes millions of dollars for the Yankees. Think of all the Jeter T-shirts and jerseys that are sold. Think of all the people that will come to Yankees games just to see Jeter get his 3,000th hit.
Enter the world where baseball meets business. Jeter is going to be on the Yankees 25-man roster for one reason: to bring fans to the stadium. He will go 0-for-20, he will hit .268, but he will still be there. All for the benefit of Yankee Global Enterprises, LLC. (Go ahead and Google that.)
Am I suggesting that the Yankees shouldn’t sign the almighty Derek Jeter? No. I am simply saying that Jeter is going to make way too much, for way too long, and it will only hurt the production of the Yankees.
Remove the fact that Jeter is a lifelong Yankee, and then think about giving him a three- or four-year deal. Ridiculous.
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