Derek Jeter's True Market Value: How Many Millions Is He Really Worth?

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Derek Jeter's True Market Value: How Many Millions Is He Really Worth?
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The Yankees' original offer of three years, $45 million wasn't good enough. Jeter reportedly is seeking an annual salary of $23-24 million for a four or five-year contract, but New York GM Brian Cashman laughed that one off the table.

So how much is Jeter actually worth? Is it somewhere between $15 million and $25 million? Less than $15 million? More than $25 million?

Here's a statistical breakdown of the market for players who put up similar numbers to Jeter.

By the Numbers

Last season, Jeter had easily the worst year of his career. His batting average dropped to .270, on-base percentage to .340 and slugging percentage to a laughable .370.

His park-adjusted OPS was a putrid 90. He still scored 111 runs, but only managed 179 hits and 10 home runs. His speed (18 stolen bases) is down, and he's striking out more often (106 SO's). 

At 36 years old, there's little reason to believe that Jeter will be able to improve upon these numbers by very much. So, let's be generous and assume that he will be able to average his 2010 numbers over the course of the next four seasons. 

Let's look at a few of the other top infielders (current and former) in baseball and see what their career averages are. I've also included their salaries for 2011 and, just for the sake of argument, Jeter's career averages and his 2010 line.

Derek Jeter (in 2010): .270 BA, .340 OBP, .370 SLG, 10 HR's, 18 SB's, $22.6 million (2010 salary)

Derek Jeter (36 years old): .314 BA, .385 OBP, .452 SLG, 17 HR's, 23 SB's

Chase Utley (31 years old): .293 BA, .380 OBP, .514 SLG, 29 HR's, 15 SB's, $15 million

Carlos Guillen (34 years old): .286 BA, .357 OBP, .445 SLG, 15 HR's, 9 SB's, $13 million

Michael Young (33 years old): .300 BA, .347 OBP, .448 SLG, 17 HR's, 9 SB's, $16 million

Adrian Beltre (31 years old): .275 BA, .328 OBP, .462 SLG, 25 HR's, 10 SB's, $14-15 million (estimated)

Jimmy Rollins (31 years old): .272 BA, .328 OBP, .435 SLG, 17 HR's, 37 SB's, $8.5 million

Rafael Furcal (32 years old): .286 BA, .351 OBP, .411 SLG, 12 HR's, 34 SB's, $12 million

David Wright (27 years old): .305 BA, .383 OBP, .516 SLG, 27 HR's, 22 SB's, $14 million

Jose Reyes (27 years old): .286 BA, .335 OBP, .434 SLG, 13 HR's, 58 SB's, $11 million

I've excluded players like Hanley Ramirez (26) and Troy Tulowitzki (25) from this discussion because they are signed to team-friendly deals that do not accurately reflect market demand. Still, this list of players provides a solid basis for comparison.

The most statistically similar players to Jeter, in terms of their career averages, are Utley (more power) and Young (less speed). This would suggest that Jeter is worth $15-16 million if he could replicate his career averages.

But if we instead use the line from his 2010 season, Jeter's value plummets. His most statistically comparable players are Furcal (more speed) and Rollins (more speed and more power).

In this scenario, Jeter would be worth about $10 million.

A Case Study

Jeter is not the first Hall-of-Fame caliber infielder looking for his last major contract before retiring. Here's another player you may have heard of, along with his career averages and 2010 season.

Scott Rolen (in 2010): .285 BA, .358 OBP, .497 SLG, 20 HR's, 1 SB, $7.7 million

Scott Rolen (35 years old): .284 BA, .369 OBP, .498 SLG, 26 HR's, 10 SB's

Derek Jeter (in 2010): .270 BA, .340 OBP, .370 SLG, 10 HR's, 18 SB's, $22.6 million (2010 salary)

Derek Jeter (36 years old): .314 BA, .385 OBP, .452 SLG, 17 HR's, 23 SB's

Rolen, like Jeter, just finished playing under a major contract. Rolen's contract extension was signed in 2002 with the St. Louis Cardinals for eight years and $90 million. He was supposed to be a free agent this offseason but the Cincinnati Reds resigned him for two years and $13 million. That's right, Rolen will be making $6.5 million next season.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Rolen had easily a more productive year than Jeter in 2010, and his career averages are very comparable. Yet, Rolen (who is a year younger than Jeter) only gets a two-year, $13 million extension while Jeter is demanding potentially a four-year deal that could pay him $100 million.

What's wrong with this picture?

The Verdict

There's no question that Jeter is still a productive player and that he's in good enough shape to continue performing well into his 40's. But even if he was able to equal his career averages, Jeter would still not be worth more than $15 million.

This doesn't even take into account that Jeter is a poor defensive shortstop and may have to move to third base, second base or the outfield. He may even have to DH one day. 

The Yankees are showing a tremendous amount of faith in Jeter by even offering him $45 million over three years. As a free agent, Jeter would be lucky to get a three-year offer for even $30 million. More likely, he'd have to settle for something along the lines of Rolen's extension that would be loaded with some additional incentives if he outplays his contract.

It's a given that Cashman will overpay free agents. That's what the Yankees do. A 50 percent raise over market value is already an incredibly generous offer. Any more than that and the Yankees might as well just hand over their check books to Jeter and his agent Casey Close.

If Jeter would rather not play baseball next season than accept an overdue pay cut, then that's his decision. But the Yankees have no reason to budge on their initial offer.

They don't owe Jeter anything—the man's already made $205 million as a a Yankee.

And we thought LeBron James had a big ego.

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