I am happy this made-up drama is finally over. I have seen wrestling story lines that had more real drama that what went on with the New York Yankees and Derek Jeter over the last couple of weeks.
Living here in New York City, I saw and heard everything, from Jeter being on the back page of the New York Post in a Boston Red Sox uniform, to every Yankee fan calling WFAN and making my ears bleed, to Hal and Hank Steinbrenner make outlandish comments for the sake of making outlandish comments.
The reality was, Jeter was never going anywhere. This was such a non-story, but the Yankees—like the Dallas Cowboys—usually turn molehills into mountains.
Jeter wasn’t going anywhere two weeks ago, and he won’t be going anywhere for the next three years. The Yankees and Jeter agreed to a three-year, $51 million deal.
Also included in this contract is a player option for a fourth year for $8 million, and Jeter can earn an additional $9 million in incentives in the fourth year if he doesn’t make certain incentives in the first three years. According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the incentives are based on finishes in the MVP, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove voting.
We all the know the story of Jeter and his down 2010 season. That story has been beaten to death. And we all know Jeter isn’t worth $17 million at this point in his career.
He performs more like a $10 million-a-year player nowadays. But the story here is how once again the Yankees have set the market for the shortstop position.
The Yankees have become very smart over the years. And when you have money and you become smart, that is a lethal combination.
What the Yankees have done over the past 10 years is overpay players and set the market for each position. When that overpaid player reaches the end of his contract with the Yankees, they just replace him with another star that no other team can afford.
The best example of this would be the Jason Giambi contract. The Yankees grossly overpaid for Giambi and were paying him $20 million plus annually from 2006–2008.
By the time 2008 rolled around, Giambi was useless to the Yankees. So what do the Yankees do? They replace him with the best first baseman on the market in Mark Teixeira, for almost the same annual salary per year.
At $20 million plus annually, there are realistically maybe two or three teams that can afford that, the Yankees being one of them and usually the most aggressive.
The same thing is going to happen to Jeter.
Even three years from now, how many teams will be able to afford a $17 million-a-year player? Five? Maybe six? When Jeter leaves and the Florida Marlins can’t afford Hanley Ramirez or the Colorado Rockies can’t afford Troy Tulowitzki, the Yankees will be there to scoop them up.
Whether you like it or not, that’s the way it is.
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