Derek Jeter and Manny Ramirez are about as different as could be. No one has ever referred to Manny as The Captain, nor will you see Jeter selling his neighbors grill on Ebay. Even as players, their skillsets are polar opposites. However, with each passing day in the negotiations between New York and their star shortstop, it looks like Jeter is poised to follow in Manny’s footsteps.
Two winters ago, Ramirez and the Dodgers engaged in the same dance that the Yankees and Jeter are now going through. The Dodgers made an opening offer of $45 million over two years, which Scott Boras labeled as not “a real offer”. Four months later, after finding out that not only was it a real offer, but it was the best one that he would get, Ramirez re-signed with the Dodgers for $45 million over two years.
It took until March for Boras to admit that he had no leverage, and to simply take the offer that the Dodgers had presented with minimal changes. The Yankees have now decided to employ the same tactic, with Brian Cashman publicly encouraging Jeter to explore the market and determine whether any team will do better than the reported $45 million over three years that New York is offering.
Jeter’s agent, Casey Close, can call this strategy “baffling” if he wants, but it worked for the Dodgers and I’d bet that it’s going to work for the Yankees. There is simply no other team in baseball that will value Jeter at a higher price than this. Close can argue for Jeter’s intrinsic value to the Yankee organization based on his status among their all-time greats, but those things don’t travel.
Try finding another organization that would bid more than $15 million a year for Jeter. The Red Sox already have one shortstop more than they need, and are shopping Marco Scutaro around the league. The Angels seem committed to Erick Aybar and are reportedly saving their pennies for Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre, and Rafael Soriano. The Phillies have Jimmy Rollins, the Mets have Jose Reyes, and the Tigers already re-signed Jhonny Peralta.
There simply aren’t any big payroll clubs that would be in the market for Jeter’s services, near as I can tell. Would a team like the Nationals make a play for Jeter in order to make a splash? I guess it is possible, but I’d imagine Jeter doesn’t really want to finish his career playing in D.C. simply to get every last dime he can as a free agent.
When we did the Contract Crowdsourcing for Jeter, $45 million for three years is what you guys came up with. The Yankees agree that it’s a fair price for his value to their organization. Now, it’s just up to Close and Jeter to realize that they have no leverage. Hopefully, they don’t drag this out until March – take the deal, retire a Yankee, and everyone wins. They really don’t have any other options.