Over the last few weeks, we’ve toasted Derek Jeter. I hosted an appreciation thread before going on vacation while Joe praised his defense and examined whether or not the Captain has been the team’s MVP.
Since then, Derek’s marvelous season has continued. He enters tonight’s action hitting .315/.384/.450 with 73 runs scored, 13 home runs, a 119 OPS+ and 20 stolen bases in 24 attempts. At age 35, when he should be slowing down, Derek is doing anything but that, and he is also flashing above average defense at short, a far improvement from his recent showings with the glove.
Over the last few months, we’ve touched upon the Derek Jeter question. He signed a lucrative 10-year $189-million contract back in February of 2001, and in a little over 13 months, he will be a 36-year-old free agent short stop.
Recently, Times scribe Jack Curry tackled the issue of Jeter’s contract status. He wrote:
As vital as Jeter has been to the organization since becoming the starter in 1996, the Yankees soon must decide how much he is worth to them. Jeter’s 10-year, $189 million contract expires after the 2010 season, but the Yankees have not formally approached him about an extension. “I haven’t even thought about it,” Jeter said…
If Jeter agreed to an extension with the Yankees, he would know what his future held beyond 2010. Knowing that he was signed after 2010 might give Jeter more security, but he did not seem worried about it. “It’s 2009,” Jeter said. “It’s not 2010.” Then Jeter paused before adding, “Or 2011.”
By mentioning 2011, Jeter was seemingly intimating that he just needs to know where he is playing before then. But it would be surprising if the Yankees let Jeter’s future remain unsettled during next season. The Yankees do not want Jeter, their team captain and a player who has helped them win four titles, to be a lame duck in 2010. It would be a chronic distraction.
Although Jeter said the Yankees had not discussed the future with him, the team has discussed Jeter’s status internally. The Yankees want to re-sign Jeter, 35, so he can collect his 3,000th hit with them and presumably retire as a Yankee. Jeter, who has 2,674 hits, cannot envision playing elsewhere.
According to Curry, the Yankees want to sign Jeter to a two-year deal. Considering, though, that Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera both received long-term deals when they were older than Jeter will be, the Yanks will probably have to give Derek at least a third year and probably more dollars than those two received.
Will a three-year, $45-million deal get the job done? Is it too much? With Jeter, the Yanks will be paying for what he has done and not necessarily what he will do. He is a big enough name, though, and a big enough draw that they can afford to do so. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see an extension in place this winter, well ahead of Jeter’s free agency.