The Yankees are playing hardball with future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter, telling him to accept the offer, or explore other deals. Surely, the Yankees wouldn't allow their captain to walk away and get his 3,000 hit elsewhere. Could they?
By various reports the Yankees have offered Jeter a 3 year, $45 million dollar deal, a deal that averages $15 million a year. Sounds pretty fair, doesn't it? Well not according to Jeter's agent.
Jeter's last contract was a 10 year, $189 million deal he signed in 2001. Last year, Jeter was one of the highest paid players in all of professional sports, pulling in a salary of $22.6 million. So, by accepting a contract that averages only $15 million, Jeter would be taking a substantial paycut. For a guy who has been the greatest Yankee of the last 40 years, that has to be a blow to his ego. So should Jeter accept this offer, try to hold out for more money, or explore other deals? Well, let's see what the numbers tell us.
For his illustrious career, Jeter has hit .314/.385/.452, with 234 HR's and more importantly 2,926 hits. Unless he drops dead, Jeter will probably end up with 3,200-3,400 hits, a number that makes him an absolute lock for Cooperstown. He has four World Series titles, and has been clutch his entire career. The Yankees have been the only organization he has known, since going 6th overall in the 1992 draft, ahead of studs like Chad Mottola, B.J. Wallace, and Paul Shuey.
However, like the rest of us, father time is clearly catching up to Jeter. In 2010 Jeter put up a line of .270/.340/.370 with 10 HR's and 67 RBI's. The .370 slugging percentage also represented a career-low. His WAR value was 2.5, the lowest it's been since 1996. Jeter did win the Gold Glove in 2010, but his UZR rating was -5.4, which tells us he was below average defensively. He was also 5th in the AL with 22 double plays grounded into.
Now don't get me wrong, I love Jeter, but his numbers tell us that he is clearly not worth $15 million a year. Compare his numbers with a couple of other free agent shortstops:
Derek Jeter: .270/.340/.370, 10 HR's, 67 RBI's, UZR: -5.4, WAR: 2.5
Miguel Tejada: .269/.312/.381, 15 HR's 71 RBI's, UZR: 0.3, WAR: 1.3
Orlando Cabrera: .263/.303/.354, 4 HR's, 42 RBI's UZR: 5.3, WAR: 1.3
In comparing these three veteran shortstops, there isn't much of a statistical difference, yet Cabrera and Tejada are unlikely to receive multi-year offers, where Jeter has already been offered a three year deal. Obviously its silly to mention Orlando Cabrera in the same breath as Jeter, yet their value isn't too far apart.
Jeter's camp is unrealistic if they will that they can get more on the open market. The Red Sox, Dodgers, Giants, and Phillies are all unlikely to offer Jeter a deal. You can also eliminate every "small" market team such as the Pirates, Royals, Padres or Indians. So who would, besides the Yankees, offer Jeter a multi-year deal? The answer is no one. The Yankees don't want to bid against themselves, and are taking the correct approach in negotiation.
Seeing Jeter in a uniform other than the Yankees is almost blasphemous. He is one of the faces of baseball, a great champion, and a consummate professional. Seeing him get his 3,000 hit in a uniform other than the Yankees would make me sick. Jeter needs to take the 3 year, $45 million deal, and get to work.