I’ll admit, I didn’t expect it to come to this.
As Derek Jeter reached free agency, I thought he and the Yankees had too much to lose — too much of a relationship — for this to become a true negotiation. I thought both sides would recognize what they meant to one another, give in a little bit each way, and reach a quiet resolution.
As Tyler Kepner so perfectly illustrated in the New York Times, this has become a legitimate back-and-forth in which no one seems happy.
The Yankees have said they’re making a “baseball decision,” but they’ve also said these will be “business negotiations.” Those are two different things, and that’s why this is complicated.
From a baseball point of view, Jeter is an aging superstar coming off his worst statistical season. The fair market value is a little difficult to determine because it seems no other team has ever considered making Jeter an offer, but the Yankees reported offer of three years, $45 million seems fair. That’s the Yankees argument, and it’s a good one.
From a business point of view, Jeter is much more than his batting average and range at shortstop. He’s the face of the franchise, a man who has done nothing but good for the organization. It’s hard to imagine a more model employee, and in the past, the Yankees have given much more to people who have done much less. As Jeter’s representation, Casey Close has to make those arguments or he’s not doing his client justice.
As Kepner wrote: Is it so hard for the Yankees to recognize that Jeter’s impact goes far beyond statistics? Is it that much of a blow to Jeter’s pride to admit that tying for the major league lead in outs, while playing a young man’s position at age 36, is a legitimate cause for concern?
Both Jeter and the Yankees decided not to make this personal, and if these negotiations are not personal, the only things left to discuss are baseball and business. And those two don’t always agree.
Associated Press photo