With veteran pitchers Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte retiring, there is no question that the New York Yankees are a team in transition. The presence of shortstop Derek Jeter is one thing that will remain unchanged in the 2014 season, however, as he signed a one-year, $12 million deal, according to the Yanks' official Twitter account.
The @Yankees re-sign SS Derek Jeter to a one-year, $12 million contract.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) November 1, 2013
Per Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger, Jeter had to decide whether to accept his one-year, $9.5 million option or head for free agency by Nov. 4. Although it wasn't officially announced by the team, the fact that Jeter was signed to a one-year, $12 million deal instead suggests that he declined the option, and the Yankees promptly signed him to a new deal.
As Danny Knobler of CBS Sports pointed out, it certainly seems quite bizarre that Jeter managed to get an extra $2.5 million out of the Yanks following the worst season of his career.
Amazing that Jeter could convince Yankees to give him $2.5 million more than the player option in his contract.— Danny Knobler (@DannyKnoblerCBS) November 1, 2013
Ultimately, though, it was a cost-cutting measure. According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, inking Jeter to a new deal allows the Yankees to save $2 million in luxury-tax payments.
Yankees will save a couple mil in luxury tax by giving Jeter a new $12M deal. Had he triggered option, AAV of last deal would've been $14M+.— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) November 1, 2013
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal provides more details:
Union and MLB still discussing how exactly to value Jeter’s $12M for luxury-tax purposes. But it will be in $12.8M-$13.2M range.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 1, 2013
Jeter, who will enter his 20th MLB season next year at the age of 39, is clearly reaching the end of the road. An ankle injury suffered during the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers forced him to miss the start of the 2013 season. That ankle ailment as well as a number of additional nagging injuries limited him to just 17 games played.
The captain wasn't particularly effective in those games either, as he hit .190 with one home run and seven RBI. He also made two errors in only 13 games at shortstop—which is disconcerting since Jeter's defense has been a question mark for the past several seasons.
While No. 2 is undoubtedly a first-ballot Hall of Famer, it's fair to wonder whether he is capable of being a productive MLB player at this juncture. With that said, Jeter has made a habit of proving his detractors wrong in recent years.
Was re-signing Jeter the right move for the Yankees?
After a slow start to the 2010 season, Jeter went on a tear down the stretch and carried that into the 2011 campaign. He followed that up with a .316 average in 2012 along with 216 hits and 15 home runs. If Jeter can stay on the field in 2014, he has a chance to produce at the plate if nothing else.
The fact that Jeter missed so much time in 2013 definitely had something to do with the Yanks' failure to make the playoffs. Even so, New York came close, and it figures to be a better team next season. First baseman Mark Teixeira will return from injury in addition to Jeter, and the Yankees are likely to be major players in free agency.
Nobody is expecting Jeter to be the same guy he was 10 years ago, but he should still play an important role in the Yankees' success in what could be his final MLB season.
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