Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why is the Derek Jeter deal taking so long, when the A-Rod deal was so quick?

Of all the gazillion articles written in the past month about how the potential Derek Jeter contract compares to the 2007 budget-busting deal with Alex Rodriguez, I haven't seen anybody write about the very short time frame -- just 19 days -- between A-Rod opting out, and Rodriguez getting another record-setting contract.

I was looking up some numbers today on it. And in my research, I discovered that although Hank Steinbrenner gets the blame from nearly everyone on the deal, Randy Levine was the Yankee front office person who did most of the actual negotiating with A-Rod, although Hank did pay the bill. And most of it was done over the phone, and away from the prying eyes of the media. Here's how it all breaks down:

* October 28, 2007: Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman breaks the news during Game 4 of the World Series that A-Rod is opting out. Word on the street is that Boras wants $350 million over 10 years. (An aside -- A-Rod ended up with $275 million, around 22% less than Boras asked for. And if A-Rod ends up achieving all the incentive goals, he'll end up with 15% than the original request. Big difference between that, and what Casey Close did in first asking for triple what the Yankees wanted to pay!)

* October 29, 2007:  Brian Cashman says the Yankees will not negotiate with A-Rod. Hank Steinbrenner agrees, saying there is "no chance" A-Rod will be a Yankee again. "It's goodbye," he says.

* October 31, 2007:  Boras says the Yankees are free to negotiate with his client, but the Yanks aren't budging -- yet.

* End of October/Early November 2007: Buster Olney's paperback version of his book "The Last Night of the Yankees Dynasty" reveals that A-Rod talked to people in the Yankees clubhouse, blaming Boras for the opt-out mess, and saying that he wanted to be a Yankee. Word reaches higher-ups, but they think it's just a bargaining tool.

* Early November, 2007:  A-Rod reaches out to Warren Buffett to ask him for advice. I wasn't able to find an exact date, but it appears to have happened around November 5. The Oracle of Omaha advises him to ditch Boras.  A-Rod contacts Joe Mallory of Goldman Sachs (the firm does business with the team) for advice on how to approach the Yankees. Mallory suggests Alex talk to Gerald Cardinale of their company.

* November 7,  2007:  Cardinale calls Randy Levine. Cardinale assures Levine that A-Rod wants to be a Yankee. But according to Olney's book, Levine is skeptical, since he knows Boras has been talking to teams at the winter meetings. However, according to Olney, the Yanks have no good options to replace A-Rod's bat in the lineup, or at third base. They tell Levine to call Cardinale back the next day.

* November 8, 2007: Levine, Malloy, Cardinale, and Rodriguez talk on a conference call. A-Rod apologizes. According to Olney, Levine says that any negotiations will proceed quickly, or not happen at all. A-Rod proposes over $300 million. Levine says the Yanks were prepared to offer Rodriguez $296 million, but would subtract $21 million because of A-Rod opting out early and costing them the Rangers' subsidy.

* November 9--10, 2007:  After around a dozen calls, the two sides agree on a basic framework for the new contract -- 10 years, $275 million, with future talk on incentives. But nothing will happen until A-Rod meets with the Steinbrenner family later that week to  apologize.

* November 14, 2007: A-Rod and then-wife Cynthia Rodriguez visit Hal Steinbrenner's house. Rodriguez apologizes to Hal and Hank. The apology is accepted.

* November 15, 2007: Word leaks out in the media about the new deal. The basic framework of the deal is done, but there is some time spent over the next week on the incentive clauses.

* November 26, 2007: The home run incentive clauses are finalized, and publicized in the press.

* December 13, 2007:  As best as I can tell, the deal has been completed for weeks, but A-Rod doesn't have a press conference with the New York media -- done via conference call -- until this date. Ironically, it's the day the Mitchell Report is released, and that garners most of the share of the media attention.

Anyhow, from what I can tell, the basic contract deal appears to have taken only took a dozen or so phone conversations to get done, in a very short time frame. As best as I can guesstimate, it took only between a week to 10 days between A-Rod reaching out to Warren Buffett, and the framework to the contract being completed. And of that time frame, it only took several days of phone conversations between Levine and A-Rod to get the deal done. I thought that was very interesting, given that the Yankees first met with Jeter and his people last month, then met again for five hours on Tuesday, and not much has happened since.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

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