For the first time in his career, Derek Jeter is a free agent. While teams are lining up to bid on the likes of Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, most believe it is a forgone conclusion that Jeter will re-sign with the Yankees. After all, he is the face of the franchise. He is El Capitán.
But early indications are that the contract negotiations could get ugly. There are reports that the Yankees will offer Jeter a three-year deal, and Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman both think that offer could be worth about $15 million per season. Wallace Matthews adds that one person in the Yankees’ front office wants to give Jeter a “take it or leave it” offer.
Meanwhile, Jeter is said to want a five or six-year deal and will not accept anything less than four years.
Five years ago, under George Steinbrenner, this would be a no-brainer. Giving an ageing veteran too many years was a small price to pay for keeping the right guys in place right now.
But this Yankees front office recognises that Jeter is near the end. They’re even planting disparaging quotes in the media like, “Jeter’s ego is getting in the way.“
So what happens if talks reach an impasse? What if Jeter gets so fed up that he decides to go someplace else, even if it means taking less money? On the open market, Jeter might only be worth $8-10 million per season. And it is hard to imagine another team would give him more than two years.
Where else could Jeter play for in 2011?
The Orioles might be the best bet. They are looking for a shortstop. And Peter Angelos would love nothing more than to stick it to the Yankees. But they also seem committed to a youth movement.
If not the O’s, then the other possibilities might be the Cardinals and Giants. Both would consider Jeter an upgrade at shortstop, have the financial resources, and would satisfy Jeter’s (likely) desire to play for a high-profile team.
Money still says Jeter will sign with the Yankees. But as of yet, we don’t know how stubborn each side will be. There is a lot of pride involved here. It would still be shocking to see Jeter in a different uniform next season, but it is also not impossible to imagine.
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