This was the week the offseason truly started. The World Series came to an end, the free agent market began to take shape, and the Yankees made their first major signing with a new one-year, $12-million deal with shortstop Derek Jeter.
It was surprising for one very obvious reason: Jeter wasn’t really a free agent.
It was generally believed that Jeter would exercise his player option and return next year at $9.5 million. However, the Yankees front office — more specifically, owner Hal Steinbrenner — believed Jeter just might opt out and create an awkward set of negotiations. Jeter and Steinbrenner worked out an agreement that cost the Yankees a little extra money and avoided anything messy.
Of course, there was still a bit of a mess.
That’s largely because it seemed no one seemed certain how exactly the new deal would affect the Yankees goal of staying below the luxury tax threshold. There was an early belief the deal might actually help, and once that theory went out the window, there was still significant confusion about the exact numbers; what might have been and what was being charged with the new deal.
The whole thing was a bit confusing — from what it meant, to why it happened — but it was done, and it kicked off the Yankees offseason with a new deal for their most iconic player.
• With the World Series over, eligible players officially became free agents including 13 Yankees. At least two of those — Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte — are gone for good, having already drifted into retirement. Of the others, Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson are expected to receive qualifying offers this next week.
• Oh, the A-Rod saga. It continued this week, even without hearings, as both Alex Rodriguez’s camp and Major League Baseball issues official statements ripping one another. Oh, and there was also that petition filed by MLB against Rodriguez’s former PR guru alleging that Biogenesis documents are being withheld from the investigation. So, basically, just another week in that whole thing.
• Gold Glove Awards were announced. The Yankees were shutout, with Robinson Cano being the team’s only finalist (he lost to Dustin Pedroia).
• The free agent opens to all teams in a few days, but the market’s top starting pitcher might not be available right away. A week ago, it was reported that changes to the Japanese posting system are in the works, and it now seems that Masahiro Tanaka might not reach the market until those changes are sorted out.
• With Tyler Austin pulled from the Arizona Fall League, the Yankees replaced him with utility man Addison Maruszak.
• Up next in this offseason: Qualifying offers have to be made by tomorrow. Free agents become free to sign with any team on Tuesday.
Associated Press photos