ORLANDO, Fla. -- The New York Yankees would be happy to get Derek Jeter to agree to a three-year contract for $21 million a year, according to a source who has ties to both the team and the player.
But Jeter, the source said, wants at least a four-year deal, preferably five or six. According to the source, there is at least one voice inside the Yankees' hierarchy urging the front office to play hard ball with Jeter.
"Tell him the deal is three years at $15 million a year, take it or leave it," the person taking the hard-line approach said. "Wait him out and he'll wind up taking it. Where's he gonna go, Cincinnati?"
But according to the source, the Yankees are fearful of fan backlash and a public relations nightmare if they let Jeter go.
"Derek Jeter is a great Yankee and he's a great player," said Yankees president Randy Levine said. "With that said and done, now is a different negotiation than 10 years ago."
Jeter earned $21 million in 2010, the last year of a 10-year contract worth $189 million. He will turn 37 before the 2011 All-Star break; and he's older than any other starting shortstop in the league. Despite winning the Gold Glove at his position for the 2010 season, he has lost significant range in the field. And his bat, fell off 44 points from his career average of .314, and 64 points off his transcendent 2009 season, when he hit .334.
According to Levine, Yankees GM Brian Cashman was expected to contact Jeter's agent, Casey Close, Wednesday night or Thursday to check in.
Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.