That is the word from a source with inside knowledge of the negotiations between the Yankees and [Derek Jeter]. The source says the Yankees are willing to give Jeter more money than his play currently warrants, but fewer years than Jeter currently wants.
Jeter, the source said, wants more. Four years, minimum, and preferably five or even six. Right now, it is a standoff, a dirty dance, a game of chicken in which one side or the other must eventually blink.
And according to the source, who has ties to both the team and the player, there is at least one voice inside the Yankees’ hierarchy urging the front office to play its game as hard as Jeter plays his on the field.
“Tell him the deal is three years at $15 million a year, take it or leave it,” goes the hard-line approach. “Wait him out and he’ll wind up taking it. Where’s he gonna go, Cincinnati?”
But according to the source, the Yankees are fearful of taking that sort of a stance with their most beloved player since Mickey Mantle, fearful of a fan backlash and a public relations nightmare even though history says this team, better than any other, can survive parting ways with even the most beloved player in the bitterest fashion.
Personally I think the Yankees should take a hard stance here. Why not? Supposedly there will be a fan backlash, but what does that even mean? If Jeter comes back it doesn’t matter at what salary he comes back at. Fans are not going to stop coming to games because he re-signed at three years instead of four or five.
Plus if the Yankees are offering three-years and $63 million, or anything even close to that, there will be no other teams that will be willing to match this. It’s a game of chicken that they can’t lose. The only team we’ve heard about this offseason that might even be remotely interested in signing Jeter, the Giants, probably wouldn’t be able to offer much more than two-years and $20 million.
So why budge? Just because the Yankees made a mistake and gave Alex Rodriguez too many years and too much money a few years ago doesn’t mean that they need to be held to that standard forever. Besides, if we’re being honest here A-Rod and Jeter are apples and oranges here. There is no comparison. However, a bad deal is a bad deal.
So play chicken with Jeter. The fans will get over it.