Derek Jeter and the Yankees are as much as $80 million apart in their negotiations.
The Yankees are said to have offered $45 million over three years. And Jeter’s camp may be seeking at least $125 million for five years.
So what happens if Jeter doesn’t re-sign with the Yankees? Jeter is Mr. Yankee. The Captain. But home is Tampa, Florida. And the Rays are desperate for a player to gives the franchise relevancy.
While the Rays have declared that they will cut payroll this off-season, maybe the smart business move would be to go get Jeter if talks fall apart with the Yankees.
Despite their recent success on the field, the Rays continue to struggle at the ticket office. Part of the problem is the transplant nature of the Bay Area. A large portion of the people living in Tampa and St. Pete grew up rooting for other teams. And a large portion of those people are Yankees fans.
So if the Rays want to win over the Yankees fans living in the Bay Area, the best way to do that would be to sign Mr. Yankee himself, Derek Jeter, and make a large dent in the Yankees local fanbase by converting The Captain. While the Rays front office is not the type to ever sign a player just to sell tickets, this could be the one exception.
Of course, the biggest stumbling block here is figuring out how to get Jeter signed. There could be a small hometown discount. More likely, signing Jeter would probably require the Rays get creative. David Moulton suggests the Rays offer Jeter a future ownership stake in the team.
An even bigger hurdle will be convincing Jeter that he is no longer a full time shortstop. Would he be willing to play 50-60 games at short and the rest at DH? If he were 40 that might be possible. But in 2011, that may be wishful thinking.
Still, if Rays owner Stuart Sternberg were ever going to make a radical move, this could be the step forward that his franchise desperately needs.
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