What Price Jeter?

Let’s put aside for a second the premise that Derek Jeter believes he should be baseball’s second-highest paid player after a season in which he batted .241 against right handed pitchers. Let’s not address what it must look like in that higher plane of consciousness in which a team should pay a man $25 million a year through his 42nd birthday not because he is performing at that a supreme level of production, but out of loyalty and recognition of past greatness, and because he deserves to make nearly as much as Alex Rodriguez does.

Let’s start with reality. If the Yankees actually have offered him three years at $15 million – is there any team prepared to outbid them? The first part of that question is obviously simpler: for how many teams would Jeter be an upgrade at shortstop – or even second base – and have any marquee value?
It’s best to begin inside the division. The Red Sox are out; it would look pretty funny to see Jeter in a Boston uniform and Theo Epstein would delight in the gigantic nose-thumbing it would constitute. But the Sox believe themselves overstocked up the middle as it is with Dustin Pedroia, Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro, and are trying to unload Scutaro as it is (one can almost see them offering Scutaro to the Yankees as a Jeter replacement). Tampa Bay might think Jeter a better second base option than Sean Rodriguez, but they’re seeking to trim payroll, not engorge it. Toronto is set with Escobar and Hill. On the other hand, the Orioles don’t really have a shortstop despite Robert Andino’s flashes of adequacy last September.
Could any of the other big market teams be interested? At first blush you could envision a scenario in which the Mets actually do unload Jose Reyes and grab Jeter (or grab him to play second). But don’t be fooled if the first half of this shuffle takes place. Reyes would be moved to lighten the payroll and there are serious doubts about whether ownership will sign even the most economical of free agents this winter. The only real bidding war the Yankees might face for Jeter would be over before it got back to the dealer. 
In Los Angeles, Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis had weak seasons in 2010, but the Angels love them both. Owner Arte Moreno may be enough of a Yankee emulator at heart to have named his ballpark “Angel Stadium” (and not “Angels Stadium”) but he’s probably not enough of one to spend the money on Jeter when he could spend it on Adrian Beltre and/or Carl Crawford. Surely Jeter would be an improvement for the Dodgers at second base, but as at CitiField, ownership questions remain the deciding factor in the ever-deepening Chavez Ravine. 
In Chicago, the numbers have yet to explain the Cubs’ interest in Blake DeWitt but jettisoning him to pay Jeter to play second seems unlikely. As we move into the high-end middle markets, the Rockies have just cleared the way for Eric Young, Jr., at second. The Tigers would probably be happy to add Jeter to replace the Will Rhymes/Scott Sizemore uncertainty at second, but not at these prices. The Giants need a shortstop, but the field of free agents includes two incumbents from their own club in Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe. The Reds are in a similar situation with Orlando Cabrera testing the waters. The Cardinals are inexplicably satisfied with their middle infield mish-mosh of Daniel Descalso, Tyler Greene, Brendan Ryan and Skip Schumaker but Jeter would be an upgrade on any of them.
So now we begin to move down market. The Astros like what Jeff Keppinger did for them last year and have just traded for Clint Barmes. Jeter would clearly be an improvement here. The same for Oakland and shortstop Cliff Pennington and second baseman Mark Ellis. The Padres likewise have unappealing options in Everth Cabrera and David Eckstein. The Indians are not sold on second baseman Jason Donald, but the Pirates probably would not think Jeter enough of an improvement to demote cheap shortstop Ronny Cedeno. And in Seattle, Jack Wilson can’t hit but the Mariners rightly fell in love with his glove. Perhaps these non-spending teams could all get together and offer Jeter one large contract and share him at a rate of 27 games each.
The Jeter market, then, is Baltimore, San Francisco and maybe St. Louis.
That’s the market at $15,000,001 a year. 
The market at $25,000,000 is in Jeter’s imagination. Or in the year 2000.


  1. kblair

    As a Yankee fan I’m more ticked off by the comments by Cashman not by what the Yankees are offering. Cashman and the Steinbrenners have shown that they do not put a value on loyalty to the organization–ask Joe Torre about that. Cashman saying that Jeter was free to test the market was the height of disrespect (an overused word in sports but not here) to Jeter and embarrassing. Work out something in private with the face of your organization.
    Jeter has never embarrassed the Yankees with affairs or PEDs. He’s come to play every day and doesn’t complain. They need each other more than Cashman thinks.

  2. historymike

    Keith, I am a Dodger fan and wish a pox on the Yankees’ house. But I’m a bit cynical about all this, and a bit disappointed in you. Why? Let’s think. Who put out this information? Clearly, the Yankees. Why? Let’s think. Possibly to embarrass Jeter and make him look greedy. Why? Let’s think. Dickering with Jeter in this way makes the Yankees look a bit, indeed, disloyal and disrespectful when they have paid so much for A-Rod, who never has delivered in the clutch in the way Jeter did, and when they low-balled Joe Torre in hopes of making him not come back.

    Further, wasn’t one of the publications to report this the Daily News, where Bill Madden wrote a biography of Steinbrenner? Sorry, Keith, but I’m suspicious of all this, and I am surprised that you are not more suspicious. Please do not fall into the trap of letting your access to your favorite club color your judgment.

  3. richard55

    They offer the guy 15-mill to play a season of baseball and you guys say the Yankees are embarrassing the guy? Hell, for 15 mill they can publicly shame me. I’ll take all of that kind of embarrassment I can get, thank you very much.

  4. ashoein@att.net

    $15,000,001 a year. Please excuse my profound naivete, but what does the $1.00 represent? Is it some sort of bargaining chip?

  5. swarty

    What I think is interesting (and may I state that I am an avowed Yankee hater but I do like Derek Jeter and always have) is Yankee fans who feel the Yankees “owe” Jeter almost whatever he is asking for by mentioning all of the intangible things he does for the team. I agree that he puts butts in the seats to a certain extent, but butts in seats are not wins, and if Jeter’s numbers continue to decline as they surely will, the Yankees will have only more fans in the seats booing that much more when Jeter continues to struggle against right hand pitching.

    I think that someone might be tempted to overpay a teeny bit for Jeter for that clubhouse leadership, but that to my mind I’m not sure you can plop him down in a new city and expect him to just become some sort of clubhouse Yoda with a hot bat.

    I will continue to watch this negotiation with interest.

  6. aaronlukestampler@yahoo.com

    As someone who hates the Yankees, I totally understand where Jeter is coming from with his contract demands and I won’t criticize him at all.

    I mean, think about it. You ask most guys who they would rather date between Jessica Alba, Mariah Carey, Jessica Biel, Scarlett Johansson or Minka Kelly, and what’s going to happen?

    You’ll get a variety of responses and debates. Somebody will pick the girl with the prettiest face, another guy will go for the one with the biggest rack. Someone else will choose the one that seems like she’d be the craziest in bed. The point is there is no wrong answer, and everyone will be happy with their pick.

    Derek Jeter, on the other hand, would answer, “I pick ALL OF THEM, plus the entire Victoria’s Secret model registry.”

    This guy left reality at the train station a long time ago and the two have not kept in touch.

  7. badflounder

    Well said. Jeter has been overrated for years. I understand the Yankees needing to overpay for what he used to be and what he means to the city/club but I believe they’ve done that already. He’s not worth anywhere near what they are offering and Jeter should be glad to get the offer.

  8. james.dittes@gmail.com

    I would love to see the Reds take a shot at Jeter. Granted, I don’t think they have anywhere near $15 million/per, but they have a young team that would really benefit from his leadership. The Reds are also the last team to have a player/manager, and he could eventually step into that role. Come on, Cincinnati! Give Jeter a call.

  9. 351foxbody@buckeye-express.com

    I have been a loyal Yankee fan all my life, 29 years, and a huge Jeter fan. That being said, I think 15 mil a year is fair considering the intangibles he brings to the team. I don’t think he could get more than 12 mil a year from anyone else. The only room I see for negotiation is to offer a 4 year deal for 60 mil.

  10. kguenther@epix.net

    I seriously doubt that the Astros will bid on Jeter. First, they appear to be reasonably set up the middle with Barmes and Keppinger, along with Manzella as a back-up (et al.). Second, the Astros already are burdened with their own overpriced contract with Carlos Lee, who probably will be shifted to first base because of his declining defensive skills in left field; the last thing they need is a middle infielder with declining defensive skills (I’m still trying to figure out how Jeter won the Gold Glove; I have better range than he does, and I have two bad knees, two bad feet, and rotator cuff damage in the throwing shoulder causing me to throw like a girl). Lastly, the Astros are up for sale; there is no way that Drayton McLane would be able to find a buyer for the club if he signs Jeter at anything higher than what he is currently paying for a shortstop (which certainly is far less than $15 million per year).

  11. mantlewasarockstar

    Here’s the deal: Derek Jeter, the 37 year old SS is worth $8m tops. The other $7m is for Derek Jeter, the Yankee icon. In other words, at this time and place $15m/yr is a fair offer. Using past bad deals as an argument for giving the Yankee captain what would amount to a blank check is empty hero worship at best; lunacy at worst. Jeter has been amply compensated for his tenure as a great Yankee–to the tune of just over $200m–and should acknowledge as much. As a Yankee fan I’d like to see him reach the 3,000 hits milestone and finish out his playing days as a Yankee, but for Jeter–or anyone else, for that matter–to believe he currently deserves $20m/yr is ludicrous. Generally speaking, I have rarely, if ever, taken the side of a team over that of a player but this is one instance where I feel the player in question needs to wake up and realize his true worth.
    I’m pretty sure another Yankee great of recent vintage–namely, Mr. Bernie Williams–would’ve appreciated an offer under these circumstances. Any offer, as a matter of fact.
    And the longer these negotiations are dragged out, the worse Jeter looks, IMHO. Let’s hope he doesn’t become the Brett Favre of baseball. Remember him? The guy who just a few years ago could do no wrong; the living embodiment of his sport. How did things work out for him?

  12. kwsventures@gmail.com

    Jeter getting $15M per year for 3 years is a steal for Jeter. I don’t get the Yankee icon deserves stuff at all. Jeter has made, what, around $200M for great services rendered during his career. I understand Hal Steinbrenner’s thinking. The old days of the Yankees bidding against themselves in negotiations are over. George might have given Jeter what he wants. But not the 2 sons. Intangibles? Great in the clubhouse? I think production on the field is 98% of what really matters. Jeter might be a great teammate. A good ambassador for the Yankees, but $15M per year? I don’t think that is smart business. … Even Babe Ruth didn’t end his career with the Yankees. Finally, I can see no other MLB team that is going to best the Yankees extremely generous offer on the table.

  13. jstevenys@hotmail.com

    Did the Yankees bid on Tsuyoshi Nishioka? Doing so could have shown Jeter they would be willing to go a different direction. Then, if they managed to get a deal done with Jeter during their 30-day window with Nishioka, Nishioka would arguably have gone back on the market. Otherwise, he would be a pretty expensive utility infielder. I’m surprised the Twins put in the winning bid for Nishioka, and that the winning bid was only (it seems low to me, at least) $5.3 million. If the Yankees didn’t try too hard for Nishioka, it almost seems getting a deal done with Jeter is a foregone conclusion. Perhaps both sides are merely enjoying every last drop of the press coverage surrounding Jeter’s contract for one last time.

  14. mrlyngreen

    Unfortunately the Cardinals ARE looking for ****. Unfortunate because what they need is a 2nd baseman. I wouldn’t take Jeter for either position.

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