Like it or not, Derek Jeter will dominate New York headlines until he and the Yankees reach an agreement. We all have our opinions on what the Yankees should offer him, but that means little in determining what they will offer. All we can do is look to people who are closer to the people involved and see how they’re interpreting events. Of course, we can then interpret their interpretations, based on what we know about them as writers and reporters.
Just today we’ve seen plenty of takes on how the talks are going. The Yankees plan to make Jeter an offer soon, perhaps as early as today, and it’s not expected to exceed three years or around $15 million in average annual value. That would signal that he’s going to get more, if this is the Yankees’ opening bid. But will Jeter be insulted by the proposed pay cut?
As Joel Sherman writes this morning, the Yankees are trying to keep this thing respectful:
And [respect] is quite the devilish word in these negotiations, because the Yankees are trying to find the right way to pay Derek Jeter for his present value without disrespecting his legacy and his standing with the fans. In other words: What do you offer a player based on the current facts — 37 next year, coming off his worst offensive season, with dying range at short?
That’s not an easy task to accomplish, of course. Jeter has been worth plenty to the franchise. But haven’t they already compensated him for that? Didn’t they hand him a 10-year, $189 million contract after the 2000 season? I think that money, plus all the endorsement deals Jeter has signed because he’s the face of the Yankees franchise, adequately covers his past value to the franchise. In other words, they’ve already respected him for the past.
Steve Politi at the Ledger, in what has to be a play to drum up outrage, makes some specious connections as he tries to argue for overpaying Jeter.
This is the overlooked number with Jeter: 1,705,263. That was the Yankees attendance in 1995, the year before Jeter became the everyday shortstop in the Bronx. It was actually below the American League average.
Four championships and 14 years later, when the team played its final season at the old Yankee Stadium, that number had climbed to 4,298,655 — and, as any fan can tell you, the ticket price climbed right along with it.
The team moved to its giant ATM of a ballpark and started the YES Network, becoming the Bronx branch of the U.S. mint along the way. They were worth $185 million in ’95, and according to Forbes, that value is now $1.5 billion. Plenty of players had a hand in that, but Jeter tops the list.
Where do we even start with this assertion? First, 1995 was the year following the strike. The Yankees were actually good for the first time in a long time during the 1994 strike season, and I know that fans were beyond disappointed that the season ended in August. I’m sure that played into the diminished attendance. And yes, Jeter showed up in 96 and won four championships. But he’ll be the first to tell you that pitching had everything to do with those.
Plus, if you want to talk attendance you have to talk about Alex Rodriguez. In 2003 the Yankees led the league with 3,465,640 attendees. That’s quite a considerable leap from 1995, but again that was in large part because of the championships and general interest climbing as the sport moved further away from the attendance-killing strike. In 2004 attendance jumped to 3.775 million. In 2005 it crossed the 4 million mark. So why don’t we attribute these attendance records to A-Rod? Because it’s ridiculous to do so. Yet Politi does it for Jeter.
The $185 million to $1.5 billion franchise valuation? Again, that’s largely because of the championships, but also because of inflation and general economic growth. The sport became more valuable, hence its marquee franchise became more valuable. Jeter played a role, for sure, but the championships played a bigger role. Jeter was just one of 25 on that championship team.
Again, this is a blatant attempt to manufacture outrage. The Yankees have paid Jeter for the past. Why do they need to pay him for it again?
(Politi also makes the argument that baseball is entertainment and Derek Jeter entertains. OK. And if he’s terrible in Year 3 of the deal, will he remain entertaining? Have you listened to Yankees fans talk?)
If you thought Politi’s assertion was willfully ignorant, look at Bill Madden:
In the aftermath of all the rhetoric coming out of the owners’ meetings in Orlando, it appears Derek Jeter is about to join the ranks of Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson and Dave Righetti in learning the hard reality of free agency as practiced by the Steinbrenner Yankees: More often than not, they are willing to pay more for somebody else’s free agent than for their own.
Because they didn’t pay Mariano Rivera more than any other team would have paid him. Ditto Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez. Andy Pettitte at $16 million in 2008? No one else was matching that. What about Jeter himself in 2000? Was any other team going to give him a 10-year contract at nearly $200 million?
For a really good read on Jeter, check out Keith Olbermann’s latest. It nicely balances the Yankees should overpay for Jeter articles. It puts his current situation into perspective, rather than yelling that the Yankees should pay him for his past performance. This is not the Derek Jeter who signed a 10-year contract for his ages 27 through 36 seasons. This is the Derek Jeter who will turn 37 next year. Why should the Yankees overpay him?