The Derek Jeter contract conundrumBy
At some point soon — hopefully today because I’ll be there — Derek Jeter will become the Yanks’ all-time leader on the hit list. In a few weeks, we’ll hear rumblings of a potential MVP award. In a few years, he’ll reach that 3000-hit plateau and possibly even that 3500-hit mark. Along the way, he’ll hit his 250th home run and score his 2000th run.
There is, of course, one monumental event that is going to arrive before a few of those milestones: Derek Jeter’s ten-year contract will expire. Make no mistake about it; this is a big deal.
Over the last few weeks, Joe and I have spent some time exploring Jeter’s contract status. While Jeter hasn’t been saying much about his new deal, I speculated that the Yanks might break with tradition and sign Derek to an extension this year. Such a move would cut off the media circus surrounding Derek the Free Agent before it could begin. Late on Friday, though, Joe noted that multiple reports indicate the Yankees will wait until after 2010 to re-up with Jeter.
Today, Bob Klapisch introduces a few new elements to the mix as he asks one very big question: While the Yankees, in the words of Jayson Stark, will probably “take care of” Jeter, what will happen when and if Derek asks for a four-year, $100-million extension? In a piece high on superlatives, Klapisch writes that Jeter has “a larger footprint than anyone in the organization.” Since 1995, Derek Jeter has been a Yankee, and since shortly thereafter, the two — Yankee baseball and Derek Jeter — have been synonymous. Jeter, says Klapisch, knows this and knows what it can mean for him:
Jeter has made it clear he’d like to finish his career in pinstripes. The Yankees certainly want him back when his current deal expires after 2010. Everyone agrees on that much. But after earning $41 million in 2009-10, Jeter will be in no mood for a pay cut, not after seeing A-Rod awarded a 10-year, $275 million deal after the 2007 season.
How much will Jeter be worth at age 37 is a question the Yankee hierarchy doesn’t dare discuss publicly. No team in the last 50 years has won a championship with a shortstop that old, although that won’t deter either side from finding middle ground. That is, unless Jeter wants to stay at the position into his 40s and is thinking of earning $25 million a year.
The Yankees are bracing for the possibility that Jeter could indeed ask for, say, $100 million over four years, knowing the captain would have enormous leverage in the talks. That’s why management won’t even begin to discuss a new contract this winter; in the wake of an MVP-caliber season, the cost would be prohibitive.
Instead, the Yankees will run the table on Jeter’s existing deal and hope common sense prevails in 2011. One industry analyst says, “let’s see if (Jeter) realizes the market has come down” since A-Rod’s record-setting contract.
Giving Jeter a contract extension after his 2009 campaign would be, simply put, a bad business decision. The Yankees would be paying Jeter going forward for what he has accomplished this year, and while Jeter appears ageless now, he is more likely to decline over the next five years than he is to duplicate this season’s numbers. So the Yankees will wait.
Derek, too, will wait. He’ll wait for the money that he thinks should be his. He’ll wait for the offer that should head his way. In the end, Derek Jeter will resign with the Yankees. He can’t really go play anywhere else, and the Yankees can’t afford to see him leave. How much it will cost though to keep him is anyone’s guess. I fear that $100 million contract, but it won’t be too much less than that.