Jeter will be back with the Yankees because they want him back, he surely wants to be back and no other team will likely compete with the Yankees financially for him. Oh, there'll be interest in him as a free agent, all right. And while some teams may want to make a big splash with a monster Hall-of-Fame name, everyone assumes (and rightly so) that no one can beat the Yankees for Jeter.
"He's worth more to them than anyone else," one AL executive said.
Another AL exec, who agreed with that assessment, guessed Jeter's worth $12-to-$18 million over two years based on his current stats but speculated he could get maybe $30 million for three years from a team trying to make that splash (though, that exec honestly conceded he tends to guess low -- it is a management perspective, after all, and I would agree that that sounds a bit light).
The exec also said he could see the Yankees going to $45 million to $50 million over three years, in part because they can.
Fifty million over three years actually sounds like a very informed, reasonable current estimate for Jeter. But who knows? That still represents a pay cut from the average salary of $18.9 million of his current contract, and 2010 salary of $21 million.
If that sounds high, remember that Jeter is an alltime Yankee, the Yankees understand his place in the clubhouse and, more importantly, they know his place in Yankees lore. In no way do they want to risk him going elsewhere. The Yankees also recall that Jeter has gone to the mat with them on contract talks, beaten them in arbitration and once made an extra $70 million after
This won't necessarily go easily. But it will get done.
Yankees bosses view Jeter not just in terms of only his stats but in terms of history. There are no active peers in those categories. As a Yankee great, he now ranks somewhere in the group with
The Yankees won't hand Jeter a blank check, but there's no chance the historic franchise is about to nickel and dime an icon, either. The Yankees are the one team that can afford to pay iconic players for their past greatness. They are also the one team that doesn't view all of its players though only a current business prism, and that's because the Yankees' business is so good it doesn't have to look at things the normal way. Jeter and
Jeter's worst offensive season to date has to have some effect on the contract negotiations, though. It will mean he won't approach the original estimates of the contract. Of course, those were only estimates since no negotiations are known even now to have taken place (the policy is to wait, after all).
Early speculation (some of it here) had Jeter possibly trying for a contract that could keep him a Yankee until he's 42, like
Ultimately, the Yankees' policy of waiting to re-sign all their uniformed personnel until the contracts expire, even in the cases of the important or even great Yankees, may wind up costing them a couple dollars with Rivera and manager
But it may actually save them money with Jeter.
The equations are fairly simple when it comes to Rivera and Girardi, though of course there will be some haggling, as always. Rivera is the greatest closer ever and with 29 saves in 31 chances and a 1.07 ERA, he's having one of his best years at age 40, but his term is likely limited by his age and position, and his dollars are limited to some degree by his position (even if he is the greatest reliever of alltime). Rivera is likely to get an incremental annual raise from the record-for-a-reliever $15 million he made the past three years.
Girardi has won one title since signing a three-year contract for $2.5 million a year, and he already appears to be using rumors of the Cubs' interest to his advantage (can't blame him for that). He's due for a nice raise, but like relievers, managers with the exception of
Girardi is doing an excellent job. But he isn't an alltime Yankee like Jeter, so reason will reign. Logical lines will be drawn.
Jeter is such a historical figure that normal market forces won't necessarily apply. While he won't get $125 million, or even $100 million, he'll still get plenty, and more with the Yankees than anyone else.
The Red Sox have difficult decisions with free agents ahead, as well. It is believed they'd like to keep
Beltre took a deal for $9 million this year that included a player option for $5 million for next year, in effect betting on himself. And it looks like a big win, with him sure to decline the player option for 2011. While some might point out that his two best seasons came in walk years and maybe the Mariners didn't get their money's worth with their $64 million, five-year deal they gave him after the 2004 season, he has positioned himself nicely for this offseason by turning down a potential three-year deal with the A's last winter and then batting .322 with 26 home runs and 93 RBIs for the Red Sox. The Angels have been suggested most recently by the
The Red Sox probably would be willing to give Beltre a nice raise, but it wouldn't shock folks to see him want to repeat his Seattle deal (or even ask for more than that), and Boston isn't likely to be amenable to anything along those lines. Clearly, however, they understand a raise is in order for a consistent offensive performer who provides Gold Glove-caliber defense.
Martinez began the year so poorly defensively, it was questionable whether Boston would even want him back. But he has improved his throwing to the range of passable and is such a strong offensive player, they are believed to want to return him at the right price. Even serviceable defensive catchers who can hit are considered valuable, and Martinez, despite injuries, has batted .292 with 14 home runs and 61 RBIs in his first full season for the Red Sox.
Martinez has said he'd like to return, and a raise from $7 million to $10 million a year seems reasonable. But when it comes to free agency, things can get very unpredictable.
Another interesting case is
Some execs could see the Red Sox trying a two-year deal for slightly more than the $12.5 million option, maybe as much $18-20 million total. But the Red Sox wouldn't want to go too much above the $12.5 million total on a two-year deal. If Ortiz plays hardball, he could force Boston into a hard decision whether to just pick up the $12.5-million option. Either way, it may be even harder for Boston to just let him leave. While he isn't Jeter and the Red Sox aren't the Yankees, he means a lot to that franchise.
• The fate of Mets manager
• Mets GM
• Marlins interim manager
• The Cardinals' rough ending now includes a public dispute, with the revelation via
• The Padres have been a terrific story. And if they pull themselves together now and hang on, that would really be impressive. According to Stats Inc., only two playoff teams have ever lost 10 in a row.
• Meanwhile, Cubs interim
• Various outlets in Japan have been reporting different teams scouting pitching phenom
• The Pirates look like they have a prize in catcher-turned-second-baseman
• The Nats have had their share of young phenoms this year, but shortstop
• Amazing that
• Hard to imagine why
• White Sox No. 1 draft choice
• The agenting business can be rough.
• Rare to see a couple power hitters --