Buster Olney runs down how Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, while not having terrible seasons, are off their typical pace. With respect to Jeter, Olney offers the following:
And for Jeter, there is more at stake here beyond the Yankees’ dream of
winning back to back championships. Jeter’s 10-year contract is set to
expire at the end of this year, and a significant diminishment of
production will ultimately be read as the inevitable manifestation of
time, and could have a great impact on the offer he gets from the
Yankees. Right now, his OPS is 128 points lower than his career average,
and if that stands, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees offering him a
four- or five-year deal at one of the highest salaries in the majors.
I think it will be the press who reads a bad 2010 for Derek Jeter as “the inevitable manifestation of time” and it will be the press who suggests that his contract should/could be lower as a result. The Yankees themselves will probably acknowledge the manifestation privately, conclude that it is irrelevant in the case of Derek Jeter and offer him a top contract regardless.
It has been said so often that it approaches cliche, but Jeter really is different. I think the Yankees will gladly overpay as an investment in fan loyalty, marketing, historical continuity and all manner of things like that.
I was a tad skeptical of that, actually, but then I saw the whole Ken Griffey thing go down in Seattle. As soon as people started going after him a couple of weeks ago Mariners fans came out of the woodwork to defend the guy and attack anyone who dared to suggest that he didn’t deserve to still be on the team. Even if Jeter suffers a production decline like Griffey’s, the army supporting him will be 100 times larger and more ferocious.
The Yankees don’t want any part of angering that crowd. They’ll give Jeter his contract. If and when he becomes a Griffey-size millstone, they’ll figure it out then. For now, however, his millions are safe.