After reports came out that Derek Jeter was seeking a six-year, $150-million contract Jeter’s camp moved quickly to squelch that. Word is now that Jeter wants a four-to-five-year deal worth $23-24 million annually.
That is still an awful lot of money, and a lot of years, for a 36-year-old shortstop coming off the worst offensive season of his career.
The New York Times speculated that the amount asked for by Jeter and the three-year, $45-million proposed by the Yankees leaves room for the possibility of a compromise that could appease both sides.
Still, the current offers — three years at $15 million a year by the Yankees and a maximum five years at $23 to $24 million by Close — suggest an obvious compromise in which the two sides would settle at four years and, say, $19 million a year.
If they did agree on those numbers, it would actually represent a small, but symbolic, annual increase over Jeter’s last contract, which, at the behest of George Steinbrenner, was designed to average a sliver below $19 million a year.
A deal that paid $19 million a year would also allow Jeter to rationalize that he was not taking a pay cut, a point that was emphasized on Friday by one National League executive who has been watching the Jeter situation with interest. That executive said that established stars like Jeter typically found it difficult to take any kind of reduction of pay, even when they have already made enormous amounts of money.
While $19 million really is too much if you look simply at the productivity you can expect from Jeter going forward, it is a number I could live with. Especially for a three-year contract. The Yankees have too often made the mistake of tying themselves to an aging star beyond the productive part of their careers, and I am hopeful they won’t do that with Jeter.