The Hot Stove League can be a funny, funny thing. Signings and trades tend to happen at isolated moments around the Winter Meetings, before Christmas and in early-to-mid January, and the weeks in between are filled with rumors and whispers, speculation and distortion. While Cliff Lee remains the free agent prize this year, the Yankees and their fans will be focusing on the homegrown hero and team captain. Today, we saw how discussion and speculation about Jeter can blow up into something it is not.
What grew into a furor by the afternoon started innocently enough with a pair of radio interviews with Hal Steinbrenner. While talking first with Michael Kay and then with Mike Francesa yesterday, Hal began to talk about Derek Jeter’s negotiations, and as he mentioned that the Yanks were a business, he also mentioned the team’s interest in signing Jeter. But, he warned, he wanted a deal that was good for both sides. “There’s always the possibility that things could get messy,” he said.
Uh, oh! Things might be messy. It’s amazing how quickly a possibility of things getting messy turns into “Yanks warn of messy talks with Jeter,” as the headline on The Post said. ESPN had a similar take.
Today, the Internet exploded all over again when Jon Heyman, the King of Speculation, let loose what can only be termed his opinion as couched in an anonymous source. A few hours ago, he tweeted that “industry sources suggest” that Jeter could ask for six years (and be signed through age 42 as A-Rod is). The Yanks want him for fewer years. He elaborated in a season preview column:
There are early indications the talks with Jeter may take awhile. Some industry sources still say they wouldn’t be surprised if he initially sought to obtain a six-year deal to match the expiration age of Alex Rodriguez’s contract, which would put Jeter at 42. The Yankees haven’t opened talks yet with his agent, Casey Close, and while it’s unconfirmed, there are a few early hints that the team may be thinking about a deal of about half that length, perhaps three guaranteed years.
So now we have “some industry sources” who “wouldn’t be surprised” if Jeter “initially sought” a six-year deal. It’s also “unconfirmed” but there are “a few early hints” that the Yankees would counter with a three-year deal. It’s somewhat shocking this paragraph made it past a Sports Illustrated editor considering the 2000 pounds of salt with which we must take it.
Right now, we don’t know what Jeter wants, what the Yanks are willing to pay or how long it’s going to take. But if this is the best rumor we’ve got, it isn’t worth listening to Heyman when he says, “Jeter could take awhile [sic],” and the only thing getting messy so far are the journalistic standards in place for reporting unfounded rumors.