The New York Yankees have officially told Derek Jeter what they think of him at this point in his career. By declining to offer Jeter arbitration, the Yankees have basically said to Jeter, "Go fish." The Yankees and Jeter are in the middle of the first free-agent period in Jeter's career.
Jeter came to the end of his 10-year, $189 million contract and is free to negotiate with any major league team. Earlier this week, the Yankees offered Jeter a three-year, $45 million contract, which Jeter declined. Jeter is reportedly looking for a contract more in the neighborhood of four to five years.
Jeter's agent, Casey Close, has called the negotiations with the Yankees " baffling," comparing Jeter to Babe Ruth. At the time, everyone laughed at such a notion. But now...the Yankees are being completely baffling.
By not offering Jeter arbitration, they run the risk of another team signing Jeter. Sure, not many teams, if any, are going to be willing to pay an aging 36-year-old shortstop, coming off his worst statistical season, $15 million per season.
But it only takes one team now. All that has to happen is for one team to say, "Whatever. Let's fill our seats with Jeter fans and pay him." Do you think the Baltimore Orioles, perennial AL East basement-dwellers, wouldn't revel in the idea of causing complete and utter anarchy in the Bronx by offering Jeter a big contract?
Just a short drive from New York, Yankees fans love to go to see their team play the Orioles at Camden Yards. Don't you think those same fans, now fuming at the disrespectful actions of the Yankees, would be willing to bring their loyalty and money to Baltimore?
Jeter made $21 million last season and going into arbitration, the Yankees risked paying as much or more. But unwilling to even offer it (Jeter could have and probably would have turned it down) the Yankees are telling Jeter they don't care if he leaves; they don't care if he plays for another team and takes his millions of fans with him.
In a previous article, I said that if the Yankees failed to re-sign Jeter, the fans would go crazy. Readers laughed it off and said I was crazy. But now I listen to the radio and hear Yankee fan after Yankee fan calling and screaming at the top of their lungs about the disrespect handed down to their beloved shortstop.
"I'll never go to Yankee stadium and I'll never give them another dime," one caller screamed.
Well, if the Yankees only wanted to gauge the fan's reactions, they can't like what they hear—but you can bet Derek Jeter does.
The ball is entirely in Jeter's court now. Before this moment, the Yankees had all the power. Jeter was coming off a bad season, his worth couldn't be lower, and the Yankees still made Jeter a fair offer. But now they've told Jeter to take a walk and feel free to stop off and talk to whoever he wants.
Well, make no mistake, Jeter will be talking and teams just might be listening. It only takes one and the whole thing comes tumbling down for the Yankees.