The Yankees are ready to offer Derek Jeter a three year, $50 million dollar contract. It looks as if that won't be enough, as Jeter apparently wants something closer to five years and $100 million. Is Jeter, always said to be one of the game's smartest players, a moron? In 2010 Jeter had career lows in home runs, batting average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage. Despite being awarded a gold glove (preposterously), advanced defensive statistics placed him well below average. Does he know the going rate for 36 year old shortstops coming off career worst years? It certainly isn't $100 million. Jeter's 2010 stats are remarkably similar to those of Marco Scutaro who is going into the second year of a two year, $12.5 million dollar contract. Based solely on his on field, statistical value, that's probably about what Jeter's worth--two to three years at $5-10 million per year.
Ah, but we can't forget, Derek Jeter is a Yankee legend. He means so much more than numbers to the Yankees. He's the Captain. He's Mr. November. He once dove into the stands. He's the heir to the legacy of Ruth and Gehrig, Dimaggio and Berra, Mantle and Maris. All this is true. Jeter is way more valuable to the Yankees than he is on the open market. But the Yankees have reportedly offered him three years at $50 million, somewhere between double and triple what he could get on the open market. It seems they're being more than fair.
Jeter is coming off a contract that paid him $189 million over the last ten years. Only one player in baseball history has ever signed a bigger contract. The Yankees have taken care of him. In turning down their current contract offer, he's being greedy and stupid. What's he going to do if the Yankees play hardball and say take it or leave it? Will he go around the league saying, "The Yankees are offering me $50 million, can you best that?" He'll get laughed out of the room.
The Yankees have already paid Derek Jeter more money than he'll be able to spend in a lifetime. They're currently offering him at least twice as much money as anyone else would. Has he no pride? In asking for $100 million, roughly $80 million more than anyone else would pay him, he risks turning himself into a multi-million dollar charity case. At this point in his career he simply is not worth anywhere near that much money, and he must know it. His quest for more money is shameless. He's preying on the emotions of the Yankees brass and Yankees fans who love him for all he's done and all he's won.
In the end, Jeter needs the Yankees more than the Yankees need Jeter. He's an iconic player because he's been so great and had so much success, and it's all been with one team. Great athletes don't do much damage to their their legacies by finishing their career with a different team. Does anyone care that Willie Mays played for the Mets, that Joe Namath played for the Rams, or that Michael Jordan played for the Wizards? Not really. We remember Mays' Giants hat falling off as he catches Vic Wertz's fly ball. We remember Namath's Jets beating the Colts, just as he said they would. We remember Jordan shooting over Bryon Russell for a sixth Bulls title. For the most part, we remember the good stuff. But if any damage was done, it certainly wasn't to the Giants, Jets, or Bulls--it was to the athlete who couldn't quite stick it out with one team for his whole career. Jeter's fifteen years are secure in Yankee history. They're not going away and they won't be tarnished by what happens now. It's Jeter's legacy, not the Yankees', that's still on the line and it's his greed that's to blame.