By Michael Tapia
The GM winter meetings are here and with them, the huge contracts featured in baseball. A lot of talk this off-season has been oscillating around the New York Yankees’ captain Derek Jeter whose contract expired this year. It is obvious that Jeter who is a lifelong Yankee and the face of the franchise will stay in New York for the remainder of his career, but for how much and how long?
Many around the league are speculating that the Yankees will have to pay a premium for the captain’s return. Among many milestones with the Yankees the one stands out the most are his 2,926 (most in franchise history). Because Jeter has been so important to the Yankees’ success and he is a clutch performer especially in the postseason, people in the sports media field bet as high as 22 million per year for his services. I beg to differ. With age becoming a big factor in his performance and coming off a sub-par season batting .270 and hitting just 67 RBI Jeter’s worth is closer to the 15 million per year range.
Jeter’s production decreased considerably compared to last year and to what his career numbers are. In 2009 Jeter’s numbers were: .334 BA, 212 Hits, 66 RBI and in 2010 they plunged to: .270 BA, 179 Hits, 67 RBI. That is a difference of 64 points in average and 33 less hits in just one year.
We understand that the fans love Jeter for everything he has done for the city and the team. It is also a known fact that batting 3,000 hits is big in baseball because it guarantees you a spot in the hall of fame and it is a huge marketing promotion, but Jeter is not a youngster no more. The captain is 36 years old and he will turn 37 in the middle of next season his numbers declined this year, which is a sign of the wear and tear that the sport takes on the body through out the years. Truth is that most players who bat .270 and 67 RBI only make about five million per season but because he is a perennial all-star and so important to the Yankees legacy you cannot him pay him so little.
Rumor has it that in the midst of a weak economy Hank and Hal Steinbrenner are trying to do away with their late father’s lavish ways. According to speculation, the team is offering Jeter a 3 year – 50 million dollar deal that translates to 16.6 million per year a 4.4 million pay cut from 2010 but still a decent salary for an aging player. Let us not forget that short stop is a very demanding position because of the speed and the agility that it requires so chances are that Jeter will not be playing his natural position through the extent of his contract.
The fans will not forgive the organization if they do not come to an agreement with their captain, as the team will lose a big part of its identity without him. Simply, the Yankees cannot afford to let Derek Jeter walk and they are aware of the public relations scandal that this will create, but what price is reasonable to keep him in the Bronx?