Jeter's contract is up next year. Any chance he bolts?

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The New York Daily News ponders whether, in the case of Derek Jeter, the Yankees will break their longstanding rule of not entering into contract negotiations with current players until their current deal is up.  The Captain is entering the least year of his ten-year, $189 million deal.  The most interesting question raised by the article is whether Jeter would actually take the bait from another team if he’s allowed to become a free agent:

Would the Captain test the market to punish the Yankees for stringing
him along? And if he did, is there a team out there with enough
resources – and guts – to try to put Jeter in another uniform to finish
his career? . . . With most teams looking to reduce payroll, it’s unlikely to think that
any other franchise would commit the kind of money it would take to
lure Jeter away from New York – assuming that money exists. But as one
GM pointed out, “All it takes is one team.”

I would place the likelihood of the Yankees letting Jeter go elsewhere — or Jeter wanting to go elsewhere, even for more money — at approximately .000000001%, and the only reason that number is above zero is to reflect the probability that a meteor strikes New York while Jeter is out of town between now and next fall, thereby eliminating the Yankees as a possibility.

The Yankees overpay for everyone, so there’s no reason to think that they won’t overpay to keep their most significant player since Mickey Mantle in the family for life. If they didn’t ask themselves whether or not Alex Rodriguez would still be a useful player in 2017, they sure as hell aren’t going to be too concerned if Jeter is going to be useful in, say, 2013 or 2014.

And is there any player in baseball who strikes you as more mindful of his legacy and place in history than Jeter? He more than anyone knows just how much him wearing a Giants or White Sox jersey would screw with the space-time continuum.  He will realize singular post-career value — actual value, historical value and psychic value — if he retires a life-long Yankee, and he knows it.

My prediction: unless Jeter utterly falls off a cliff in 2010, his contract negotiations next winter will take approximately ten minutes (if he falls off a cliff it’ll take 20 minutes). He will leave those negotiations with a contract that probably pays him a bit too much and probably pays him a bit too long.

And absolutely no one in the universe will be bothered a bit by it.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.