Behold, thy name is leverage

  • Derek’s significance to the team is much more than just stats” This is true. Jeter is the Captain, the team’s moral compass and ever-present driver to achieve. Jeter represents all that the Yankees want the franchise to represent: Class, Respect, Excellence.  Yet, the Yankees franchise will live on in the post-Jeter era, whenever that starts, be it 2011 or sometime in the future, just as it succeeded pre-Jeter.  The Yanks have paid Jeter handsomely during his incredibly successful tenure, some $205 million so far in salary alone.  In return, the Yanks have gotten all they could have asked for from Jeter.  His ten year contract has been a boon for both sides, an absolute rarity in professional sports.  Each side has thrived during the length of Jeter’s career to date.  The team’s success in the 1990′s helped fuel the crazy spending of the 2000′s (in an effort to keep the ‘dynasty’ alive).  Jeter is one of the main reasons for the team’s successes, but not the only one.  Some have said that it’s Mariano Rivera who has been the most critical component over the last 15 years.  Jeter, in occupying the front seat on this bus, has leveraged all the things that he represents into countless more millions in endorsements.  This symbiotic relationship should continue unless ego, on either side, gets in the way.  The Yankees, I believe, are more than aware of Jeter’s individual significance to the entire organization.  But does Jeter (and Close) realize that this organization will go on once his playing days are done?  Sometimes, I’m not so sure. The Babe Ruth references are just silly, by the way.
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  • And yet, the Yankees’ negotiating strategy remains baffling” Baffling?  Really, Casey?  What’s baffling to you: the “it’s just business” or the offer that you clearly view as “baffling”?  I’ve said for a while now that the public comments are problematic, starting with the initial posturingOnce Randy Levine got involved, it signaled to me that Cashman is not as in control of this process as I’d like (and I am guessing as he’d like, too). The semi-truth is that there is a budget and there are other things to consider. I’ve also often said that “it’s about the money, but the money doesn’t matter.”  Overpay Jeter. Do it. Give him more than any other team would even consider.  And to me, the initial offer is just that, an overpayment. But it’s also simply an opening offer which also indicates that the team will go even higher to keep Jeter, for all he is, all he isn’t and all he represents. However, despite the Yankees apparent endless revenue streams, there are some very real reasons why these negotiations need to remain somewhat in the realm of reality (ie: not $20m/yr for 5 years). The money does matter, after allFrom Larry’s excellent work here:

(1) the Yankees’ cash resources are NOT unlimited, (2) the Yankees need payroll flexibility to address roster requirements arising after 2011, and most importantly (3) with the collective bargaining agreement up for renegotiation in 2011, there are strong tactical reasons for the Yankees to keep their 2011 payroll as low as possible.

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  • They continue to argue their points in the press and refuse to acknowledge Derek’s total contribution to their franchiseI’ll bypass the first half of this sentence since I already agreed with Close that the public displays and comments from Hal, Cashman and Levine are unproductive at best, damaging at worst. However, the second half of this sentence has me grinding my teeth.  The team absolutely acknowledges Jeter’s total contribution to the franchise.  Their initial offer, not their final offer, already includes what the team believes to be a “hometown premium” for all things Jeterian.  Close and Jeter may disagree and that’s fine. I encourage them to visit with each and every other of the 29 MLB teams and weigh their offers (if any actually made a legitimate offer) and find any that even resemble what the Yanks will offer in terms of length and sheer dollar amount.  If Jeter and Close can actually find a team willing to go higher than 4 years and $60 million (where I think this is going, at least), take it. Seriously, if there’s another team out there who deems that their franchise can extract that much value out of Derek Jeter, so be it.  I will be upset and disappointed if that were come to pass, but I don’t believe for one second that there’s a team out there who would ascribe that much value/cost to Jeter. 

The problem that I am having is that the Yankee organization helped create Derek Jeter, the image, as much as Jeter himself.  What if Jeter was borne of the Pirates’ organization and didn’t grow up in the post-season for the first 14 years of his career? Thankfully for each side, and all the Yankee fans, Jeter was birthed into a franchise on the cusp of a dynasty and that organization had the financial might to not only keep their homegrown stars throughout their careers but also to spend like maniacs to fill the roster with every other team’s talent that became too pricey for them to afford. This was the perfect storm for every other team in MLB. Jeter did not make the Yankees; the Yankees made Jeter.  You won’t hear the team saying this but I’m sure they believe it. 

So Mr. Close, spare me the feigned shock and astonishment, please.  You have little leverage. [Aside from the hit the team might take in brand image, the best leverage Jeter/Close have is the fact that there is a mediocre Plan B if Jeter goes elsewhere. They could start Eduardo Nunez/Ramiro Pena and simply redeploy the alloted Jeter cash and get a guy like Crawford/Werth. What else is there, Juan Uribe?] The battle lines are already being drawn and fans are beginning to view Jeter’s demands as greedy. That selfless, team-first image that Jeter has done such a wonderful job cultivating is being chipped away, ever so slowly. 

All that being said, my message to the Yankees organization: Please keep this out of the press.  Keep the comments to something short like this:

“The entire Yankee organization desires to keep Derek Jeter in pinstripes his entire playing career and for the rest of his post-playing life. We have the utmost respect for Derek’s contributions to this organization and we will be forever grateful for his service. He is and has been everything we want our organization to represent. We remain optimistic that a mutually beneficial agreement will be reached as soon as possible. We will have no further comments until that time.”

That’s not too hard, is it?  Just get the damn deal done already.  Please.

Making this mess stick out that much more is the fact that we’re hearing very little from Mariano Rivera and his representation.  Mariano knows he will be paid and has not (yet) suffered any real slippage in his on-field performance.  And no one knows diddly about him, the person.  Mo has not made any comments or has word leaked of contractual demands that are out of whack or based upon others’ contracts. Mo measures himself against himself, it seems. Joel Sherman touched on this today:

I am simply wondering why we are obsessing on Jeter and throwing out how to take care of him financially, when it is not all that difficult to make a case that Rivera deserves no less the attention and dollars?

Spot on, Joel.  But it’s certainly fitting.

It’s time for Close and Jeter to sequester themselves with Cashman and hammer out a deal that works for both sides. Letting this drag out and being dragged through the mud by the newspapers does noone any good; it only sells more newspapers. Three years, four years, lifetime? Whatever. Just get it done.

@Jason_IIATMS

About @Jason_IIATMS

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27 thoughts on “Behold, thy name is leverage

  1. Mark Smith

    The thing is that losing Jeter, replacing him with Nunez, and adding Werth or Crawford would probably upgrade the team while being cheaper.

    • Well, this might be true. Except that the team would have 4 very good OF. Barring a trade, it could be a problem.

      I hope it's not the case, in either scenario.

      • Mark Smith

        That's a good point. I should've added "and trade one of the OF for whatever else you need". But yeah, it wouldn't seem right to see Jeter in another uniform, though I imagine people felt the same about Ruth in a Braves' jersey.

        • Marvin

          The difference with Ruth and Jeter is that Jeter has never been in another jersey….Ruth wasn't originally a Yankee, he was on the Red Sox, so seeing him in another jersey really wasn't that weird, people had seen it before…but Jeter has never been in another jersey, people were saying how weird it was to see him in the USA jersey playing against the Yankees, imagine him in a Royals jersey or something…it just isn't the same…there isn't one player who embodies a team as Jeter does with the Yankees

          • what about Mariano Rivera? Isn't he AT LEAST as "valuable" or as much of a key contributor to the success over the last 15 years as Jeter?

    • Will Moller

      Mark,

      Have to say it–Jeter wasn't great this season, but he was still *good*. Replacing him with Nunez would be a big step down, unless we're assuming last season's performance is now the norm (rather than somewhere in between 2010 and 2009's versions of Derek).

      And the Yanks have a pretty solid (and inexpensive) outfield–I don't know that adding Werth or Crawford would make any sense at all (unless we want to send Gardner back to the 4th OF position…and he was one of the most valuable Yankees in 2010. Also, he's free.)

      Now, if we wanted to put together a knockout package to go get Justin Upton, with one of the team's OFs included in the deal–that would be worth talking about!

      • Mark Smith

        I was mainly just trying to make a point, not actually suggest they do it. Some people act as if Jeter is irreplaceable, and I was just saying that it's not inconceivable that the Yankees could improve without him on the team.

        And if you traded for Upton with one of the OFs, you'd still have 4 OFs! :)

  2. dan l

    Bid on the Japanese kid an offer Jeter arbitration is all I would do. Screw Jeter!

  3. LarryAtIIATMS

    Jason, I have no idea why this is being handled so publicly on both sides. Maybe it's just the 24-7 sports news animal needing something to feed on. But I'd just ignore all this. My guess is that both sides are competent, and that a good deal will eventually be reached.

    I'm tired of this story, too. But this will eventually pass and be forgotten. Jeter will sign a deal that makes sense to both sides. If it takes some time for this to happen, then so be it. It's my experience in Hollywood that the big stars often negotiate their deals until the very last minute, but that no star walks away from a good deal. The Yanks are willing to offer Jeter a good deal, and Jeter will eventually accept it. In the meantime, my advice is to focus attention somewhere else.

    • Larry,

      I can't focus my attention elsewhere. Ignoring Jeter and this thing is tantamount to negligence for a Yanks blog, ain't it? I mean, we can choose to skip almost every puff of smoke but some of this needs to be addressed. Besides, what else should I be focused on? More about Girardi? Postulating on random trade ideas?

      I don't like it any better than you but I'll try to temper the number of posts on this subject, just as I've been doing!

      • LarryAtIIATMS

        Hey! I'm not trying to tell you what to write. There IS a story here. This is not going as smoothly or as privately as I would have predicted. But this IS going to get done, it will be done as a deal that is good for both sides, and any hard feelings will quickly be forgotten.

        • I also agree with this 100%. It will be a love-fest once it's done.

  4. Brien@IIATMS

    “It’s time for Close and Jeter to sequester themselves with Cashman and hammer out a deal that works for both sides. ”

    It’s a great sentiment, but I’m not really sure that that’s a deal that exists at this point, and I think it’s going to take a while before it does. My guess is that the Yankees will go above their initial offer, which disappoints me but such is life, but the question is by how much? As much as Jeter wants them to? Probably not until Jeter gets some more realistic assumptions about his present value. It’s true that Jeter has some value above just his on field production, but at the moment it looks like Close is trying to use that as a stand in for “pay Jeter whatever he demands,” which isn’t going to happen. I hope.

    The best thing to do now is just wait. The Yankees have an offer on the table. In my opinion, it’s a larger offer than anyone else will make Jeter. And no one else has an offer at the moment. So negotiating now would be negotiating against themselves in a vacuum. I’d let the offer sit there, and give Jeter, or at least his agent, a chance to field actual offers from other teams to see what the market shakes out at. If he’s getting a lot of 2 year/$30 million offers, maybe Jeter will come to grips with the market. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? He takes less money to go play for the Tigers or the Orioles in a fit of pique? Come on.

    I’m not saying the Yankees should take a firm line on their offer and make it a take it or leave it propostion (although that’s probably what I would do), but if Jeter really does have these wildly unrealistic expectations about this contract, taking a breather to let him test the rest of the market would be a good idea.

    And I must say, even I’m surprised by how quickly the facade of Jeter’s television character started to crack.

  5. tnavarra

    … At this point, what is best for Jeter's future in pinstripes is for him to open his eyes to a world outside of the Yankees. There comes a point when he needs to look himself in the mirror and understand that the reflection staring back at him is getting older, does he want to spend the rest of his days in pinstripes, or does he want to end things on bad terms due to greed? I'd hope he picks option A there.

  6. moooose

    We're all doing Casey Close's (and Randy Levine's) dirty work by talking about this so much here. Stipulated: 1. Jeter isn't as good as the money he's getting. 2. He's worth a large premium because of non-baseball factors. What's left is simply how much more. Both sides are using the press (and blogosphere) strategically. Blah blah blah. It will all shake out at some point, so let's not give this feeble fire any more oxygen.

    • I agree.

      But, as the leader of this site, if I ignore this stuff, there's very little else to discuss right now. Mark's doing the Awards Week coverage and the GM conferences don't begin until December.

      I don't comment on every Jeter rumor, but I simply tried to layer a bit on top of what I have been hearing/reading…

      • moooose

        Definitely don't take my comment as criticism. If I were you, I'd be posting about the same thing. I'm just saying that it doesn't really merit debate, per se. Looking at the comments below mine, it's safe to say that not everyone agrees with me on that.

  7. Brian

    The biggest thing that gets me with this is how the Yankees are actually acting like the Yankees of old with this negotiation. There was an article on ESPN New York either Saturday or Sunday talking about how in the past the Yankees have had no problem cutting a players salary or shipping him to another team when he got too old. Now granted free agency is a different beast than it was in the days of Ruth, but Jeter doesn't have any leverage like most free agents.

  8. Patrick

    I have a few things I'd like to point out:

    1.) He's still a damn good ball player. Better than most, whether you like it or not. He doesn't crack under pressure and he understands the game better than any of us.

    2.) Who among us would take a pay cut if we were in the same position as Jeter? Seriously. He's been making what, 22 million right? There is a huge difference between 21 and 15. If your boss came to you and said "Okay Mr. Whoever, you're getting older and although you're still good at your job, I'm going to cut you from $100,000 annually to $65,000." What would you say? "Okay sir, that's fair. You've been paying me big money for ten years; I've been paid the huge bucks long enough. Thank you for the 30+% pay cut, sir." The Yankees made Jeter who he is. They've been the ones signing his huge checks. They're the ones funding his giant mansion being built it St. Pete. So you're going to blame him for wanting to continue making similar money? The Yankees have been overpaying people for years who aren't nearly as helpful as Jeter. Screw off. Seriously.

    3.) Greed? No s— Sherlock. Most Americans are greedy, but every single ball player is greedy. They get paid hundreds of thousands, to tens of millions of dollars to play baseball. And they fight to get more money. Do I blame them? No. Like I said before, all of us would do the same. But even Brett Gardner, who we say makes "no money", makes enough money to pay the salary of ten or more high school math teachers, who serve a much greater purpose to society than ANY baseball player. They're all greedy, so it's kind of stupid to call one player greedy, when he's made 200 million dollars in ten years, but apparently he wasn't greedy that whole time…

    The main point here: who cares? We won't know the outcome until it's over, and we surely don't have any say in the matter. Speculation is for Wall Street fat cats, not me.

    • Patrick:

      The fault in that logic of the pay cut is your implicit assumption is that there's another employer willing to pay Mr. Whoever more. What if the best Mr. Whoever can get is that $65k rate? What if every other employer only wants Mr. Whoever at $30k. Suddenly $65k looks great and the prior compensation levels are nothing but nostalgia.

      As for greed, obviously I agree; It's About The Money, right?

    • Rich A

      Argument #2 is bogus when discussing such ridiculous (to the average person) dollar amounts. Cutting my 100G to 65G might make it difficult to pay my middle class mortgage. If I had made $189 million in the last ten years, I would imagine that I would be fairly well set (as well as my children, grandchildre, great-grandchildren, etc.)

  9. Brian

    This stuff continues to crack me up

    In one corner, we have an employee trying to maximize his salary…

    In the other corner, we have a business trying to retain a valued employee but pay him as little as they possibly can…

    For all the 8 year olds out there who've never worked a job for a company, this is CONTRACT NEGOTIATION 101

    Neither side is doing anything wrong, both sides are acting just as they should. And the deal will get done.

    • LarryAtIIATMS

      If that's not worth a click on the green Thumbs Up button, I don't know what is.

  10. Marvin

    Why is everyone acting as if Derek Jeter is any regular player?? You stated that the Yankee franchise succeeded pre-Jeter, but do you not remember the 18 year drought that ended the moment Jeter showed up…why is everyone in the media acting as if Derek Jeter doesnt merit another year at 20 mil…Jorge got a 4 year deal, Mo got a 4 year deal, you're telling me Jeter can't get a 4 year deal, maybe even 5?? Sure Jeter had an off year in 2010, but its not as if he's had consecutive off years…and if the Yankees are going to pay anyone it shold be this man, the guy who's going to be remembered when people talk about the Yankees of the late 90's and beyond…

    • I don't think anyone here is acting like Jeter is any regular player. To give Jeter that much credit for the success of the entire organization during his tenure is overstating his impact. No one person has had that sort of impact, aside from ownership's desire to fund the machine in ways never seen before.

      I'm OK with a 4 year deal for Jeter, though it concerns me. Maybe 2010 is just a down year, but what if it's not? The Posada deal was a year too long and represents panic by Hank.

      The Yankees WILL pay this man, as you suggest. Paying him north of $15 million IS paying him far in excess of his actual market value.

      The problem that I am having is that the Yankee organization helped create Derek Jeter, the image, as much as Jeter himself. What if Jeter was borne of the Pirates’ organization and didn’t grow up in the post-season for the first 14 years of his career? Thankfully for each side, and all the Yankee fans, Jeter was birthed into a franchise on the cusp of a dynasty and that organization had the financial might to not only keep their homegrown stars throughout their careers but also to spend like maniacs to fill the roster with every other team’s talent that became too pricey for them to afford. This was the perfect storm for every other team in MLB. Jeter did not make the Yankees; the Yankees made Jeter.

  11. Chuck

    In the larger picture, fans have to realize that they Yankees must begin the difficult process of re-booting. The old guard will fade very soon, and a new generation of Yankees will need to be cultivated.
    People speak of Jeter in decline….even Rivera began to look very human this past season (his stats are misleading). Letting Jeter walk would be in the best interests of the Yankees; his contract will be a financial burden, given his diminished skills.

  12. Martin Saslow

    Derek Jeter has been a substantial reason for the americas team concept that has kept the Yankees
    the most dominent professional team it is. He has been cloaked with the good guy image which
    was indeed merited by the way he handles himself and the team to such heights.
    There is a time in all athletes years when their skills wane and the concept of value to the team is
    compromized by the fact that any superstar cannot in todays "team first" idea that you must have a
    good team surrounding their stars as was proven in basketball when Chicago's Jorden needed
    some of the better players to complement him to reach the heights Chicago attained. We only hope
    Jeter will understand this factor and give the team some room to seek the help needed to reach
    the same heights.

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