10 years ago, the Yankees locked up their future Hall-of-Fame shortstop with a $189-million contract before he could ever made it to the open market.
Now he’s finally a free agent, but the decision to hold on to him is not so easy. Jeter is approaching 37 and had the worst season of his career in 2010. Was it an aberration or a sign of things to come?
That’s just one of the factors the Yankees must consider when negotiation his next contract. They’ll have to weigh the prospect of losing the face of their franchise against the potential to clog their payroll with a weakening, slow-footed 40-year-old.
But it’s not just about the Yankees and their superstar. There are other players in this drama, all tugging him in different directions. What do they want of out this negotiation and how will they get it?
Girardi is the Yankees' clubhouse leader. But on the diamond, the manager turns to Jeter. The future Hall-of-Famer busts down the line for every ground ball, doesn't give up on plays in the field, and handles himself with grace off it. He's the stabilizing force on a roster of $206 million worth of talent and ego.
A-Rod is locked into the Yankees for another seven years, so he's not going away. But he'd likely relish the opportunity to prove he's the still the best shortstop on the team -- and relieve himself of the constant comparisons with his former best friend.
Playing for the sport's most visible franchise, Jeter has been the antithesis to all the scandals Selig has presided over -- steroids, tainted home run chases, canceled World Series, and recently, the instant replay debate -- in the past two decades. Selig needs Jeter's perfect image to continue shining on the game's biggest stages.
Derek Jeter isn't the only New York shortstop in search of a new contract. Mets' all-star Jose Reyes has just one year left on his current deal, and when he steps to the negotiating table next winter he'll want to use a massive Derek Jeter contract as the basis for his next pact.
Knight runs the biggest sports apparel company in the world, and Jeter is one its biggest clients. Nike and other brands like Gillette and Ford are crossing their fingers, hoping Jeter continues to suit up for the most popular franchise in the nation's biggest market.
Minka Kelly doesn't want to relinquish the bright lights of New York ... although Hollywood is nice, too
As Jeter's fiancee, Kelly has Captain Clutch's ear. She's Esquire's 2010 Sexiest Woman Alive and a budding actress who's had nothing but small roles since her breakout performance in Friday Night Lights. Being a New York socialite next to her fiancee is certainly an attractive option--but not quite as appealing as a move to Los Angeles, where Jeter can bring his clutch play to the Dodgers and she can bring her talents to the silver screen.
Jeter's agent works on commission, so Close just wants his client to sign the biggest contract he possibly can -- no matter the team.
Cashman knows all about Jeter's off-the-field attributes, but the Yankees' general manager is responsible for putting the best team he possibly can on the field. If he's truly constrained to that $205 million or so budget, he'd rather use the $15-$20 million Jeter wants annually to acquire more pitching or younger talent.
The Steinbrenner kids want their first big move since their father's passing to go as smoothly as possible. They also want Jeter in pinstripes for his 3,000th hit (coming sometime next season), for the twilight of his career, and for Old-Timer Days for years to come. But they still 'run a business' and a good businessman will only overpay so much for 'intangibles.'
The Bombers want to keep their fans happy and until they begin charging fans (directly) for free agents, Yankee faithful want their five-time world champion shortstop to don the pinstripes at any cost.
The Yankee Captain has no desire to ditch the Bronx. He wants to protect his legacy as one of the greatest Yankees of all-time and continue to play the most important position on baseball's most important team. But he also wants a big contract that pays him what he's worth to the team, both on and off the field.
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