This, from the Times' Michael S Schmidt, is the best analysis I've seen yet of The World's Most Important Negotiations:
- Derek Jeter’s agent, Casey Close, is currently asking the Yankees to agree to a new contract of either four or five years at $23 to $24 million a year, according to a person in baseball who had been briefed on the matter.
Still, the current offers — three years at $15 million a year by the Yankees and a maximum five years at $23 to $24 million by Close — suggest an obvious compromise in which the two sides would settle at four years and, say, $19 million a year.
If they did agree on those numbers, it would actually represent a small, but symbolic, annual increase over Jeter’s last contract, which, at the behest of George Steinbrenner, was designed to average a sliver below $19 million a year.
A deal that paid $19 million a year would also allow Jeter to rationalize that he was not taking a pay cut, a point that was emphasized on Friday by one National League executive who has been watching the Jeter situation with interest. That executive said that established stars like Jeter typically found it difficult to take any kind of reduction of pay, even when they have already made enormous amounts of money.
Still, it is not clear that the Yankees will ultimately agree to a compromise that pays Jeter $19 million a year, regardless of the negative fallout a protracted standoff might produce. The Yankees know they are the ones with the leverage, because Jeter will not get offers from other teams to match what the Yankees are already willing to pay.
Well, I suppose it's true that the Yankees have more leverage. I'm not sure they have all the leverage. There have always been, and always will be, players who simply refuse to play if they don't get what they want. In 1930, future Hall of Famer Edd Roush skipped the season rather than play for less than he wanted. Eighty years later, future non-Hall of Famer Jermaine Dye did the same.
I haven't seen Derek Jeter's portfolio. I'll guess that even a paltry $45 million (before taxes) does mean something to him, but it's quite possible that it doesn't. Or that it does, but not as much as his foolish pride.
I still think everything will work out OK in the end. The Yankees will move some, Jeter will move some, and everyone smiles a lot and says all the right things when the shortstop gets his $19 million per season. It's like Sam Goldwyn said about one of his movie stars: "We're overpaying him, but he's worth it."
It might not work out OK in the end, though. Either way, I'm reminded of how many pundits were so sure, just a few weeks ago, that of course Derek Jeter would never leave the Yankees. Something like that would be impossible.
Except it's really not impossible, and never was.