One of the most beloved New York Yankees, Derek Jeter, has played his entire career in pinstripes and is tasting free agency for the first time. While the Yankees want Jeter back, the question is for how many years and at what price?
Currently, the Yankees are willing to offer him a three-year contract for $21 million per year, but Jeter is looking for a four or five year contract. At the age of 36, what does the captain have left to offer?
After a tremendous 2009 season where Jeter hit .334, he lowered his average 64 points in 2010, the final year of his 10 year, $189 million deal. His bat speed has seemed to diminish as his average fell 44 points below his career average of .314.
While playing for the Yankees, the captain has been an All Star 11 times, has won five World Championships, the 1996 American League Rookie of the Year Award, numerous gold gloves, and is closing in on 3,000 hits for his career. Currently, Jeter is 74 hits away from reaching that milestone as a member of the New York Yankees if they can reach a deal on both sides.
Right now, the franchise doesn't want to part with one of the greatest Yankees of all time, but their playing a standoff game in negotiations, where the Yankees or Jeter will eventually give in. After the game 6 loss to the Texas Rangers in the ALDS, the Yankees thought signing Derek Jeter would be the easiest move during their offseason.
The Yankees split their ways with Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui after both playing important and remarkable roles in their 2009 World Series championship.
Randy Levine and Brian Cashman have other moves to make this offseason with targeting Cliff Lee and trying to bring back Mariano Rivera, but even though they're trying to play hard ball, they know how important Derek Jeter is to the New York Yankees.
"Derek Jeter is a great Yankee and he's a great player," said Levin to ESPN. "With that said and done, now is a different negotiation than 10 years ago."
Even though there has been a drastic decline in Jeter's abilities as a player, the Yankees are willing to keep him as a $21 million dollar player due to his past heroics and everything that he has provided for the team. Jeter is not in his prime anymore; his best days are behind him just like most of the aging baseball players that have retired. The Yankees want to pay Jeter based on performance and his performance has diminished over the last year or so.
Cashman has other priorities to handle such as reaching out to Fern Cuza, the agent for Mariano Rivera, and has plans to meet with Darek Braunecker, the agent for Cliff Lee. The Yankees' motivations are bringing back their two superstars and closing a C.C. Sabathia like deal with Cliff Lee.
"We would love to have both of them back," Levine said of Jeter and Rivera, "but as Hal said, it's a business."
The business of these negotiations so far has been a rough one, but hopefully through the holidays, the Yankees will have something to cheer about.