Monday, February 15, 2010

Enough already with the "What Will Jeter Do?" contract stories

The Yanks haven't even made it to spring training yet, but already I'm sick of all the rampant speculation about what's going to happen when Derek Jeter's contract is up at the end of the year.

I mean, really. Does anybody really think that Jeter is going to go elsewhere after this season? Come on now. He's the face of the Yankee franchise, and he will finish his career as a Yankee for two reasons: the team ownership will want to keep him because of the significant value he still has in so many ways
, and Jeter's star will be significantly dimmed if he goes elsewhere.

Brian Cashman has said he won't negotiate with Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Joe Girardi until the 2010 season is over, which makes perfect economic sense. But it also means we're going to have a year of speculative articles like the one Tyler Kepner recently wrote for the New York Times about Jeter's contract.

Kepner's angle is that "the value of the [next Jeter] deal will also reveal something about Jeter and his true feelings about [Alex] Rodriguez." Huh?

Then Kepner wonders, "Will Jeter demand a contract that also takes him through age 42? Will he seek to make more than Rodriguez?"

Um, on what planet is Jeter going to get a contract guaranteeing him more than the $27+ million a year A-Rod makes? Heck, Rodriguez himself wouldn't get that money now, thanks to the bad state of the economy. Besides, Derek couldn't get a deal making as much as Rodriguez when he was 26 years old, but he's going to get it at age 36? And get such money up until age 42? Gimme a break.

Anyway, as Jeter said when signing his previous deal in 2001, "being the highest paid is not something I covet." But he's going to all of a sudden play hardball and demand to be paid more than A-Rod? Come on now.

Jeter's not going to ask to make more than Rodriguez - the captain is not stupid - and it's silly for Kepner to even speculate on it. But, since the writer is invested in making the Jeter contract negotiations "a new act in the always captivating Jeter/Rodriguez psychodrama," we are treated to all sorts of psychobabble, like Kepner noting that "in general terms, Rodriguez makes things complicated and Jeter keeps things simple." Gee, you think so, Tyler? Who knew!

But for all the cliched comparisons that the Times writer makes between the two players, he misses a very significant point - thanks to A-Rod, Jeter ended up with an extra $70+ million the last time around.

Here's what happened. Just before the 2000 season, the Yanks were supposed to sign Jeter for a $118.5 million, seven-year deal, but George Steinbrenner dragged his feet on doing so (he wanted to wait until Juan Gonzalez signed an even bigger deal with the Detroit Tigers first.) But the Juan Gone deal never happened, and then the A-Rod/Rangers deal went down the following winter. This meant that the Yankees ended up giving Jeter three more years - and $70 million more dollars - just to keep him on the team, and to keep them from potentially paying him even more in free agency the following winter. Remember, the Yankees-Jeter deal was the second-biggest contract in history at the time (it's now the third-biggest contract in history - A-Rod's 2007 deal with the Yankees is now No. 1.)

So what about Jeter's future? I am very confident he will stay a Yankee for life, and remain where he belongs. If he goes elsewhere in free agency, he will make a mockery of his reputation. It's just not going to happen. He's not Brett Favre, after all.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

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