NEW YORK -- The Yankees and Derek Jeter spent nearly five hours in one another's company Tuesday night in Tampa, and no voices were raised, no threats were made, and no one was injured. In fact, not even feelings were hurt.
"It was a good, constructive meeting," said a source involved in the negotiations. "It was the kind of meeting that could eventually lead somewhere."
Somewhere, of course, means a new contract for Jeter, who for the first time in a decade is a free agent. The Yankees have offered Jeter a new three-year deal worth $45 million; Jeter and his agent, Casey Close, are said to be seeking between four and six years at somewhere between $22 million and $24 million per year.
Jeter, 36, just came out of a 10-year deal that paid him $189 million. He also just came off the worst full season, statistically, of his 15-year major league career, batting just .270 with an on-base percentage of .340, both the lowest of his career as an everyday player. He did, however, win his fifth Gold Glove after committing just six errors all season.
Since the end of the season, the negotiations between Jeter and the Yankees have been few and furtive and the rhetoric from both sides has been hard-edged and at times verging on ugly. But Tuesday's meeting, at an undisclosed location in Tampa, appeared to be a giant step toward resolving an impasse that has been dividing Yankees fans over the fate of one of the team's all-time greatest players.
"Everyone was professional and the tenor of the meeting was great," said the source, who confirmed that owner Hal Steinbrenner, general manager Brian Cashman and team president Randy Levine attended the meeting along with Jeter, Close and an unidentified lawyer for CAA, Close's agency. Hank Steinbrenner was not involved in the meeting but was briefed on it by his brother afterward. The details of the meeting were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The source said that although the meeting was impromptu -- Jeter and Close had been meeting nearby and called the Yankees headquarters in the late afternoon to arrange the get-together -- the parties convened for between four and five hours.
According to the source, specific terms of a deal were not discussed.
"Everybody knows what each other's position is," the source said. "This was more about concepts and putting together a framework where a deal could be done. And I think everybody wants to get it done."
Hank Steinbrenner had told The Associated Press on Tuesday: "I feel confident Derek will remain with the Yankees, and my brother does as well.''
The opposing parties had not met face-to-face since Nov. 8, although there had been telephone conversations between Close and the Yankees. No further meetings are scheduled.
"The way it left off was, both sides are going to go back and think about what was discussed, and when someone has a brainstorm, they'll get together again," the source said, adding, "Hey, anyone can pick up a telephone at any time."