How the New York Yankees will handle the negotiations with iconic 36-year-old free-agent shortstop Derek Jeter is one of the most interesting questions of the baseball offseason.
ESPN New York reported Monday that the Yankees are likely to overpay Jeter, placing more value on his legacy than his current on-field production.
"The Yankees are going to overpay him," said a source with intimate knowledge of the discussions between the team and Casey Close, Jeter's agent. "The question is, how much are they going to overpay him?"
From conversations with two sources, both of whom requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the talks, Jeter's offer is expected to be for three years at somewhere between $15 million and $20 million per season.
That would be a slight paycut from his $21 million paycheck in 2010, but still well above the going rate for a shortstop who hit .270 last year and will hit his 37th birthday two weeks before the next All-Star Game.
"Some people will think the number is unfair," said one source, "And some are going to think it is way too much."
And both sources made it clear that in their opinion, Jeter will be paid more than he is currently worth on performance alone.
"Jeter's numbers are exactly the same as Marco Scutaro's," one of the sources said. "He's gonna get paid a lot more than Scutaro, of course. He's gonna get more than the best shortstop in the league, Hanley Ramirez, who makes less than $12 million a year."
In all honesty, I have no problem with this. The Yankees, obviously, have the money. Why should they low-ball the best shortstop in franchise history, a guy with five World Series rings, who has been the face of the franchise during a hugely successful run and who should next season become the first player to collect 3,000 hits as a Yankee?
There really is no reason. Even if he does post Marco Scutaro numbers.