Jeter Testing the Waters

Columns — By on November 20, 2010 8:52 am

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Unless you’re able to remember the 1970s and ‘80s clearly, there has probably been no other player in pin stripes personifying the Yankees like one Mr. Derek Jeter.

Jeter was destined to be a Yankee, and New York certainly never balked at the idea of this 6-3 shortstop playing long and hard for the club when they drafted him with the 6th overall pick in the 1992 amateur draft.

After 15 games played in 1996, Jeter finally made his big splash in ’96, and he’s been a rock on the island that is SS for 15 solid years. Throughout his career, Jeter has amassed 5 Gold Glove Awards, 4 Silver Slugger Awards – he’s been an 11-time All-Star selection and has 5 World Series rings.

Like all players, however, Jeter has aged and is now on the decline. At 36 years of age, Derek is now a free agent and is currently at odds with Yankees’ management, as they’re looking to offer medium-range money for the short-term, while Jeter looks for big money with a four-year minimum.

Derek Jeter is easily one of the top Yankees of all time, but the game of baseball runs like a business – even if most of us wish it didn’t. So, unable to convince Jeter—more likely Jeter’s agent, but that’s another story—that New York is being more than fair in offering him in the neighborhood of 3 years at 20 million per, they’re imploring Derek to test the free agent waters to see what he can find.

This is the first time in his career that Jeter’s been a free agent. The Yankees made sure to lock this guy up like the man in the iron mask, and they haven’t relented over all these years.

Realistically, Jeter isn’t at fault. The Yankees are paying A-Rod a fortune with a long-term deal. They’re paying C.C. through the roof over 7 years. Even Mark Teixeira is pulling in 22 million a year for 8 years. Derek only wants what the Yankees seem willing to give – long-term deals worth a lot of money.

Unfortunately, Jeter will have to settle for a short-term deal. It will still be worth a lot of money, no doubt, but upon testing the free agent waters he’s going to find that there’s simply not a large market for a 36-year-old shortstop with diminishing skills seeking a long-term contract for the same price you could buy five equally talented players with.

Money isn’t the issue here, although it’s certain Jeter won’t play for peanuts. What seems to be the bigger problem is that New York is not willing to keep him on until he’s a 40-year-old shortstop.

Already rich, already famous, already a legend – Jeter will most likely be back with the Yankees next year, most likely with a 3-year, incentive-based deal, and everyone will end up happy.

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