If the Derek Jeter contract negotiations have slipped beyond being a sure thing, where else could the Yankees captain land? There are teams in need of a shortstop, and there are teams with money to spend, but are any of them legitimate alternatives?
San Francisco Giants
Let’s start with the team that’s mentioned most often. Edgar Rentaria and Juan Uribe are both free agents. The Giants need help on the left side of the infield, and clearly 2010 has given them reason to believe they can win in 2011. A veteran presence like Jeter could make a difference on a team like that, a perfect leader for the young guys and a respected presence for the veterans. Money, of course, is the issue.
St. Louis Cardinals
Brendan Ryan is a terrific defensive player, but he hit .223 with two home runs this season. The Cardinals need help in the infield, but they’re about to pay Albert Pujols a ton of money. In Chicago, Phil Rogers wonders if that actually means Jeter makes more sense for the Cardinals. If they decide they can’t re-sign Pujols, would the Cardinals consider Jeter an immediate solution at shortstop and a future solution at first base?
There’s some buzz that JJ Hardy might be a non-tender candidate, and let’s face it, the Twins have been the same sort of can’t-get-over-the-hump team for the better part of a decade. Could they convince themselves that a guy like Jeter might make a difference?
Orlando Cabrera didn’t give them much this season, and Paul Janish isn’t the answer. Zack Cozart did hit 17 home runs in Triple-A this season, but that came with a .255 batting average. After winning the NL Central this season, the Reds are surely hoping to contend again in 2011. It’s another team that might like the idea of Jeter’s presence, but might not be able — or willing — to pay for him.
Los Angeles Angels
Erick Aybar had a bad 2010, and Brandon Wood has never lived up to his lofty offensive potential. The Angels have been willing to spend big money in the past, and they have some fairly significant contracts coming off the books after the 2011 season, which could help them pay for Jeter down the road. The Angels clearly want to be competitive again, and they need help in the infield.
Associated Press photo