Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees are at an impasse right now in contract negotiations, with anywhere between $45 million and $105 million separating them. So what happens next? I think one of two things happens -- he could either follow the path of Alex Rodriguez or Joe Torre. Let me explain.
Our Met fan friend Coop of My Summer Family fame is the first person I heard suggest that Jeter could pull an A-Rod, throwing agent Casey Close under the bus, blaming him for asking for too much money, and then going directly to the Yankees to negotiate. Granted I never bought that Boras somehow acted against A-Rod's wishes -- as dopey as opting out during the World Series was, I am quite sure it was A-Rod's idea. But at any rate, after seeing what a huge blunder he made, A-Rod rang up Warren Buffett for advice. Alex then ate some humble pie, threw Scott Boras under the bus, and managed to get an even bigger contract than he had before. Not that I think Boras cared about that -- no matter how much he got blamed, he still got his 10%, and made Alex richer than ever.
The reason that scenario worked for A-Rod though, is that was plausible to believe that he was Boras' puppet, doing dopey things because the Avenging Agent told him to. Also, A-Rod was willing to humiliate himself in crawling back to the Yanks, begging for another chance. A less insecure, more prideful individual would have moved on, I think.
Could Jeter do the same thing A-Rod did to extricate himself from this mess? I dunno. The media has been on Jeter's case -- for really the first time ever -- about his outrageous contract demands, but I could see them going along with blaming Close, and not Jeter, for how much things have gone awry. It wouldn't be the first time they sent something negative about Jeter down the ol' memory hole.
The real issue would be the "crawling back to the Yankees and admitting he he was wrong" thingy. I'm not really sure Jeter could do it. I am quite positive he fully believes that he's worth $25 million a year for as long as he wants to play. Why wouldn't he? For 15 years, he's had everybody telling him how great he is. Combine that with a personality that cuts people off at the first sign of "negativity," as the euphemism goes, meaning that he doesn't have a lot of people around him questioning him and telling him that he messed up. I just am not sure how he would admit fallibility here.
Remember what happened with Andy Pettitte a few years ago? He turned down an $11 million option the Yanks had, and figured he could get more money. As it turns out, he misjudged the market, and ended up crawling back to the Yanks for $5.5 million plus incentives. But Andy was able to acknowledge that he messed up, and say that while he wished he were making more money, he was glad to still be a Yankee.
But Jeter is just not an Andy Pettitte personality type. The person he's most like is Joe Torre -- somebody who is used to being treated with deference, somebody quick to hold a grudge, and somebody quick to be insulted. So the longer this goes on, the more I can see Jeter complaining about the "insult" of only being offered $15M a year for three years, and him taking his talents to Baltimore or some other team.
Granted, I don't think any team will offer him anything close to what Jeter would make as a Yankee. But the Los Angeles Dodgers never came close to matching Torre's old $8 million salary with the Yanks -- or even that $5 million plus $3 million in incentives offer that the Yanks made him for 2008. You remember, the one he deemed "an insult"? Yet it didn't stop Joe from walking out the door. And a year after leaving, Torre was still so sure he was right, he trashed the organization in "The Yankee Years," complicating his legacy, and further ticking off the Yanks' front office.
Could Jeter do the same thing -- make that the same things, because he and his friends and family are fully cooperating with Ian O'Connor's upcoming biography? Absolutely. Remember, others, most recently Jon Heyman. have written that Jeter is already aggrieved that he's not the top dog he used to be among his teammates..O'Connor's new book promises to reveal info about the captain's declining influence in the clubhouse. Is it possible Jeter might trash the organization? I wouldn't be surprised.
Granted, it would make zero sense for Derek Jeter to burn bridges with the organization that made him a New York legend, and that is offering him more money than anybody else would. But it didn't make much sense for Joe Torre to do what he did, either.
What do you think? Tell us about it!