When the Yankees started talking about the Jeter negotiations to the media, we knew something was afoot. Why would they go out of their way to make their position clear? Why would they strongarm a player who has helped define the franchise? While most fans didn’t appear to have a problem with the Yankees offering Jeter three years at $45 million, they did have a problem with the way the Yankees conducted themselves. In today’s Daily News, Bill Madden gives us the answer.
But sources close to the Jeter/Close camp have said their starting point was six years, $150 million and that they aren’t budging on $25 million per year
The Yankees, I’m sure, would have preferred to reveal Jeter’s position and leave it at that. Few, if any, fans would side with Jeter at that point. But the two sides have an agreement to not reveal the other’s position to the media. That’s actually what makes this leak so odd. If the Yankees broke their word and leaked it, why would they have started the war of words earlier this week? With Jeter’s position known, words are unnecessary. It is self-evidently ridiculous.
On the other side, why would Jeter’s camp ever let a figure like that reach the media? It obviously will not help them garner any further support. The general tenor among fans seems to be that 3/45 is fair, but that the Yankees shouldn’t spend so much time telling the world how fair it is. How does anyone close to Jeter think that leaking a six-year, $150 million demand will make anyone see their side? It only makes the 3/45 offer appear more fair. And it also, in a way, justifies the Yankees media barrage. I, too, would lash out if my negotiating tactics were termed “baffling” when my offer was fair and the player’s was the height of absurdity.
But before we get into a tizzy over this, there are two things to remember. First, these might not actually be Jeter’s demands. “Sources close to the Jeter/Close camp,” is ambiguous as it gets — maybe a step better than “someone familiar with their thinking.” This might be a misrepresentation for all we know. Second, this is just Jeter’s opening position, just as 3/45 is the Yankees opening position. Of course, if Jeter really won’t budge on $25 million per season he might end up sitting out 2011. Or else playing for $8 million elsewhere. Because the Yankees aren’t going near that figure.
We’ve been hit by a wave of Jeter news and speculation lately, to the point where most of us probably don’t want to hear it any more. We might be in luck. With the two sides so far apart and with the Yankees having a number of other items on the off-season agenda, I imagine that we’ll see the Yankees taking care of those more reasonable priorities. This isn’t to say that they’ll break off negotiations, but rather that there’s no sense in talking until Jeter realizes that he’s not getting anything near $25 million per season. After all this, silence might be the Yankees’ best weapon.
Update by Mike (11:05am ET): Newsday’s Jim Baumbach hears from a “person familiar” with the negotiations that Jeter is asking for less than above six-year, $150M deal rumored above.