The Yankees are expected to ramp up negotiations in coming days in an effort to put longtime star Derek Jeter back in pinstripes, but Jeter will still have to accept some sort of pay cut to stay, according to a league source familiar with their thinking.
The Yankees appear willing to enhance their latest $45 million, three-year offer to retain the iconic Yankee, but are said to be unwilling to match his previous salary on a deal of at least three years. Jeter just completed a 10-year, $189-million deal that paid him about $21 million in 2010.
The Yankees' next offer is expected to be for a couple million more per year, so perhaps in the $50 million range for three years. Indications thus far are they have very little inclination to add a fourth year, though that can't be entirely ruled out. The team would like to complete the Jeter negotiations so they can get to the rest of their offseason to-do list, bringing Jeter's longtime friend and iconic closer Mariano Rivera back into the fold and pressing to sign superstar free agent pitcher Cliff Lee.
Jeter is said by someone familiar with the talks to be looking for about $23 million annually on a deal of four-to-five years. While Jeter had an uncharacteristic off year in 2010, batting .270 with 10 home runs, he did still score 111 runs, make the All-Star team and win a Gold Glove. Jeter, 36, also has a value in terms of branding and the franchise that his camp has pressed, while the Yankees have portrayed Jeter mostly in baseball terms.
The Yankees and Jeter have been expected to make a deal all winter, as baseball people can't see the Yankees captain and face of the dynasty leaving the Yankees. Though one person close to him said the departures of Joe Torre, Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams and the loss of George Steinbrenner means it can't entirely be ruled out entirely, it's still difficult to envision Jeter choosing to play anywhere else.
The talks have gotten a bit messy, as new Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner predicted they could, based on the large gap in the sides' view of his value. The most recent salvo was fired by Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who basically challenged Jeter to look around in free agency. It isn't known whether Jeter has begun looking. A few other teams seek a shortstop, most notably the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, whose GM, Brian Sabean, headed the club's scouting department when the Yankees made Jeter the No. 6 overall pick in the 1992 draft and signed him quickly to a bonus of $700,000.
Baseball people suggest the Yankees and Jeter need each other, though, as he does have a value to the franchise, they don't have a sure replacement (good prospect Eduardo Nunez is unproven and the next best free agent shortstop may be Orlando Cabrera), and Jeter's own legacy and legions of loyal Yankee fans would be at risk if he left.