Still, the living legend needs to end the contract nonsense that is going on and makes neither him nor the Yankees look good.
The latest reports have the Yankees willing to pay Jeter an exorbitant amount of money over three years; Jeter apparently wants five or six years, but at least four years.
The Yankees said ahead of time that it may get messy, but really, given their reported willingness to offer such a generous three-year deal, it should end there.
Maybe Jeter, for all his Yankee-ness, is worth an infinite amount of cash to the franchise. His value extends far, far beyond OPS and fielding percentage. Without Jeter, there might as well be no Yankees, some would say.
Well, not really. There were Yankees before Jeter, and there will be Yankees after Jeter. The onus is on Jeter now to remain a Yankee.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve the right to try to get what he wants, but the fact is that the Yankees owe him nothing. They already paid him far more than any other team would have over the past 10 years, and they’ve now given him more than $200 million since 1999. He gets paid by Gillette, Gatorade and Nike just for being himself. He’ll be a superstar until he’s 100 years old. He doesn’t need a few extra dollars.
If Jeter wanted to, he could have walked up to Hal Steinbrenner in October and said, “Let’s get this done.” If playing baseball for the New York Yankees is genuinely and truly what Derek Jeter loves, he could have and should have signed whatever deal was presented to him. It was a chance to be the man.
Instead, negotiations are dragging on, with sources close to the Steinbrenners telling ESPN.com that “only Jeter’s ego is getting in the way.”
Whether that’s the case or not, Jeter’s not making himself look good. Sports fans in New England might remember when Tedy Bruschi, the ultimate Patriot, was in the final year of his contract. While most athletes avoid discussing contracts in a public forum, Bruschi said in a radio interview that he flat-out would not play for any other team. His message was “I know this will kill my negotiating leverage, but I don’t care. I will only play for the New England Patriots.” He said it and he meant it, and he retired a Patriot legend.
For whatever reason, Jeter hasn’t made that statement, and he’s not looking like the guy in this photo.
Yankee fans as well as most baseball fans have come to admire and respect Jeter over the years for his competitiveness and class. He’s been exceptional in just about every area possible, and, quite simply, he just seems different than the money-hungry, emotionless pro athletes that dominate the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
In quibbling over years or dollars or respect or whatever it is, Jeter’s looking more and more like everybody else.
Who is more responsible for the somewhat ugly contract negotiations: Derek Jeter or the Yankees? Share your thoughts below.