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.