As Rob noted earlier, the posturing between Derek Jeter and The Yankees has already begun, as the Yankees have made an offer of 3 years and $45 million, which Jeter’s agent, Casey Close, finds “baffling.” Like many fans, Close wants the Yankees to appreciate all the things that Derek Jeter has done for the franchise over the years. In Close’s case. it makes sense that he would play up every angle possible; it’s his job. Yet the amount of fan sentiment to give Jeter a blank check is pretty baffling. Has Jeter meant a lot to the franchise both on and off the field during his career? Of course he has. And for his troubles, he received a 10-year, $189 million contract. Just based on his baseball contributions, Jeter has been overpaid throughout his career, but the Yankees have happily paid it because of all Jeter has meant as captain and face of the franchise. Yet now the Yankees are being accused of not appreciating all that Jeter offers?
Even now, the Yankees initial offer is more than reasonable. I can’t imagine another team in baseball that would offer Jeter more than something in the 2 years, $20 million range. Again though, the Yankees are happy to overpay Jeter.
Going much higher than $45 million though in just plain bad business. No one else can afford to give Jeter $45, so why would the Yankees go higher than that? Most people like to act as if the Yankees print their own money – and certainly sometimes it seems like they do – but even the Yankees have their limits. Should they really overpay Jeter so grossly (and remember, thanks to the luxury tax, they pay an extra 40% on what they give Jeter) that it could inhibit what they can do in free agency, the draft, and elsewhere?
So really the question the Yankees have to ask: would Jeter be willing to take less the play elsewhere? That seems like a ridiculous question at face value. Jeter wants to play for the Yankees so if they offer him the biggest contract, it should be a done deal. Yet, as Johnny Damon taught us last year, that’s not always the case. Damon claimed to want to come back to NY and the Yankees offered him a 2 year, $20 million deal – yet he claimed he wouldn’t sign for less than 3 years and $36 million. The Yankees wouldn’t give it to him and he ended up having to sign with Detroit for 1 year and $8 million. He left money on the table just because he didn’t want the Yankees to give him a paycut (apparently it hurt his pride less to take a larger paycut but from a different team).
Would Jeter do the same thing? It seems unlikely, as Scott Boras handled Damon’s negotiations and thus his ego had to be placated during negotiations. But if the Yankees hold firm to their first offer, the only way Jeter doesn’t eventually sign it is if he’s willing to take less elsewhere – because no one is matching or exceeding the initial offer by the Yankees.