Via George King –
According to the Yankees, there hasn’t been anything confusing about contract negotiations with Derek Jeter.
Agent Casey Close described the Yankees’ negotiating strategy on Sunday as “baffling” and accused the Yankees of using the press and not acknowledging Jeter’s contributions to the club.
Yesterday, general manager Brian Cashman strongly denied the organization has acted that way with its shortstop, captain and all-time hits leader.
“There is nothing baffling about our position,” Cashman said. “We have been very honest and direct with them, not through the press. We feel our offer is appropriate and fair. We appreciate the contributions Derek has made to our organization and we have made it clear to them. Our primary focus is his on-the-field performance the last couple of years in conjunction with his age, and we have some concerns in that area that need to be addressed in a multiyear deal going forward.
“I restate Derek Jeter is the best shortstop for this franchise as we move forward. The difficulty is finding out what is fair between both sides.”
Cashman said the Yankees won’t offer Jeter arbitration by tonight’s deadline.
When Jeter became a free agent five days after the World Series, the two most delicious points were: Jeter’s value to the Yankees was greater than any other team, and the Yankees had no legitimate replacement and would be smothered under an avalanche of angry backlash if Jeter left.
Nothing has changed. Early in the process, owner Hal Steinbrenner admitted there was a chance negotiations could get “messy,” and the words the past few days have proven that.
Working in the Yankees’ favor is Jeter’s value on the open market is in the $7 million-to-$10 million range, that his career-low .270 batting average last year raises questions, and doubts over how much longer can he play shortstop.
In Jeter’s favor is his .334 batting average in 2009, and his stature as a career .314 hitter.
Also in the Yankees’ favor is the average annual value of other middle infielders. At $15 million per, Jeter would be on top.
Man, this is getting acrimonious. Do the Yankees realize that, even if they get Jeter to take three years at $45 million, he’s not going to get over this bad blood any time soon? The dude is extremely full of pride. Maybe it’s time for Jeter and his agent to start working the Orioles and/or Rays on a one-year pillow contract and then the Yankees can watch Jeter get his 3,000th career hit in some other uniform?