Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jeter Negotiations At An Impasse

According to a report by ESPN's Wallace Matthews this morning, the Jeter negotiations have come to a stalemate as the Yankees are looking to offer him a 3-year deal at $15 or perhaps $21 million, but the Captain wants anywhere from 4-6 years at the same rate. A source with inside knowledge told Wallace that someone in the "Yankee hierarchy" wants to play hardball:

"Tell him the deal is three years at $15 million a year, take it or leave it," the person taking the hard-line approach said. "Wait him out and he'll wind up taking it. Where's he gonna go, Cincinnati?"

Hmmm. That ending sounds similar to statements made by Hank Steinbrenner during the Alex Rodriguez free agency debacle, where he questioned if A-Rod wanted to go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee or a Toledo Mud Hen. It also makes sense that the statement may have come from "Hammering" Hank as he has been relatively quiet on these negotiations; at some point he was sure to get in the mix.

Adding more fuel to the fire was team President Randy Levine who, according to Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News, had this to say:

"All I can say is we think he's a great Yankee, we think he's been a great Yankee and we've been great for him and this is the best place for him. But he's a free agent and he's allowed to test the market and do whatever he wants."

"He's a baseball player. It's a player negotiation. Everything he is and who he is gets factored in. But this isn't a licensing deal or a commercial rights deal. He's a baseball player."

"But with that said, you can't take away from who he is. He brings a lot to the organization and we bring a lot to him.... Derek Jeter is a great Yankee, a great player. That said, now is a different negotiation than 10 years ago."

The ESPN report notes that the Yankees are fearful, however, of going too hard on the negotiations because of possible fan backlash. If this is the case, I, being one of the many fanatics that absolutely respects and admires everything about Derek Jeter, offer this:

Play hardball with Jeter. Now is the time for him to show the team, the organization and his fans that he truly is all about putting what's best for the team first. This wasteful stand-off is all due to him wanting the Yankees to prove that they value him as much as they value A-Rod. Remind Jeter that at the time of his contract signing, A-Rod was coming off of a year where he showed no signs of slowing down, and pretty much carried the team into the playoffs and won the MVP. Remind Derek that that MVP award was A-Rod's second in three years.

We fanatics know now that A-Rod's deal was erroneous, considering his injuries after-the-fact, but hindsight is 20/20; if the Yankees could go back and change A-Rod's deal knowing what they know now, they probably would. Make Jeter and his agent understand that.

Don't worry about us abandoning ship; we got over the "mishandling" of Bernie Williams, the end of the Joe Torre era and the free agency exits of Tino Martinez in 2001 and Hideki Matsui last year. In each case we were initially hurt, sad and disappointed, but we got over it as the team moved forward, and we remain as loyal as ever.

And give us a little more credit; we're not so petty that we would boycott our team over an extra 2-3 years. We know that Jeter is in decline; we know that his true value as a premier shortstop is no longer, and that $15 or even $21 million per is more than generous. We also know that if these negotiations fall through, the onus will be on Jeter as you in the front office offered him a fair deal that in no way minimizes his legacy and was in the best interest of the team.

Do the right thing, Jeter. Take the three year deal and maybe negotiate options for another year or two. Have a renaissance showing for the next three years, and you will surely be back in 2014.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

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