Just a few thoughts in the wake of today’s one-year, $12-million deal with Derek Jeter…
• Early last month, after the Yankees season ended, Hal Steinbrenner did a kind of media blitz one day. He was asked on the radio about the Yankees declining attendance and television viewership. “New York is a marquee town,” he said. “You know that better than me. People love to see Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeiras, and that just wasn’t the situation this year.” It would seem that making sure Jeter comes back could be an attempt to address those sagging attendance and viewership figures.
• Along those same lines, Joel Sherman wrote today that the Yankees were “operating under the belief that Jeter might turn down the option and badly wanted to avoid the public animus that arose the last time Jeter negotiated with the Yankees.” From the outside, it made perfect sense that Jeter would take that one year option and be happy about it, but the baseball world operates in its own sort of reality from time to time. Despite his age, and despite a year lost to injury, Jeter actually had some leverage this winter. And he used it.
• A new contract with Jeter only solves a problem that the Yankees never really had in the first place. It was always assumed Jeter would be back, so this is more about taking care of business than solving a problem. Maybe the situation would have become a problem — it’s true that Jeter opting out would have created a new sort of nightmare and distraction — but there certainly doesn’t seem to be a sense of, thank goodness that’s done!
• Of all the Jeter questions going forward, salary never ranked very high on the list. Can he be a top-of-the-order hitter? Does he have the range for shortstop? Will this offseason solve all of those lower-body health problems? Those questions can’t be answered with a new contract. The bigger Jeter questions are still looming out there.
• Here’s Jeter talking on the last day of the season: “It’s a normal offseason, that’s it. It’s a normal offseason so I’ll start working out soon.” Worth remembering that this guy finished top 10 in MVP a year ago. Not five years ago, one year ago!
• An easy misconception, and I’m as guilty as anyone: Jeter isn’t really getting a raise. The new contract pays him more than the player option would have, but he’s still going to make considerably less than the $17 million he was paid last season. Maybe it doesn’t matter much — all we care about is average annual value anyway — but the idea that Jeter is getting a raise is both true and false, depending on the point of view.
• In how many markets and for how many teams would average annual value and luxury tax implications become the hot topic of a signing like this? That stated goal of $189 million is the single biggest topic surrounding the Yankees this offseason, and today was further proof. It can be extremely confusing — we certainly saw that today — but every Yankees action sparks an immediate effort to put that action in the context of the luxury tax. It’s going to be like that all winter.
Associated Press photo