Mike’s Take: Three prominent Yankees – Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Joe Girardi – enter the 2010 season in the last year of their contracts, however GM Brian Cashman does not intend to change course and negotiate with any of the three during the season. “I don’t think you can separate one from the other,” said Cashman. “I am not saying they are the same, but the questions will come, ‘If you did one, why didn’t you do the other?’ If this was Kansas City, it would be different — but it’s not.”
Since Cashman took over, the team’s philosophy has been to not negotiate with players until their contracts expire. They did this with Jorge Posada and Mo after 2007, and to be fair, Cashman did the same to himself when his contract was up after the 2008 season. Of course, with Girardi in a lame duck year, the first time the team has the audacity to fall into a slump, he’ll be answering questions about his job security. Then again, how would that be different than any other year?
Ben’s Take: For the Yankees and Brian Cashman, this development is nearly not news. The Yankees haven’t given out a post-arbitration, pre-free agency extension to any player in recent years, and the three lame ducks won’t push the issue.
However, it’s worth a minute to ponder how the Yankees have an A-Rod Problem here. Now, when I say an A-Rod Problem, I don’t mean that in what has become the typical sense of the phrase. The Yankees don’t care about the women A-Rod has dated or the Page 6 headlines he’s made. Rather, his contract is the problem. The Yankees owe A-Rod $206 million in guaranteed salary between now and 2017. Jeter will be making $21 million in his age 36 season this year, and when A-Rod hits his age 36 season in 2012, he’ll be earning $29 million.
For the Yankees, the A-Rod contract will be an albatross. Although annual contracts are creeping ever upwards and the Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols extensions will soon set the market, no one has made more than A-Rod did in 2000 except for A-Rod when the Yanks outbid themselves for his services in 2007. The Yankees, for better or worse, will be paying A-Rod $20 million or more when he’s in his early 40s. Can the team afford to do the same with Derek Jeter?
For Derek, in particular, the issue becomes one of years and money. Because Hank opened his mouth last week, Derek has the upper hand in negotiations, and the Yankees won’t and should not let him walk. But come 2014 and 2015, the Yankees will feature a rather old core of players making a significant amount of money. Finding cost-controlled, good young players is going to become that much more important for the Yankees over the next few years if the team is set on staying at or near a budget.