Talking to fellow Yankee fans or listening to sports talk radio, you hear the same arguments being made over and over again by those who take Jeter’s side in these negotiations. I’ll recount them one by one and try to answer them as succinctly as possible.
“They paid Kei Igawa/Carl Pavano/insert bum here XX mil and they can’t pay Derek?”
This is the ‘repeat your mistakes’ argument. They made a bad deal here or there, so why not repeat it with Derek, who’s been a terrific Yankee. There are many problems with this argument, but I’ll try to sum it up this way. None of these people would be making this argument if it was their money being spent. Further the Yanks are very rich, very financially sophisticated bunch. This should provide the answer as to why they don’t do stupid things with their money, at least not intentionally. Giving a 36 year old who already looks washed up an above market 4 to 5 year deal would be taking most of that money and setting it on fire. It’s also self defeating if you’re a fan who wants to see the team win. The Yanks do have a budget, a high one to be sure, but taking up large amounts of budget space with unproductive players is a great way to lose games. Unlike Igawa, they can’t bury an unproductive Derek at AAA.
“How can they pay Alex and not pay Derek?”
Because they’re not in the same class as players, not even close. That was the underlying point I was making in my light-hearted modest proposal piece the other day. As stupid as that A-Rod contract was the day it was signed, the circumstances couldn’t have been any more different. Alex was 32 and coming off an MVP season (his 3rd, Derek has none) which was arguably the best season any right handed hitter ever had at the old Yankee stadium. Derek is coming off the worst showing of his career and many observers (myself included) think his bat has slowed. Also, if you think back to late 2007 you’ll remember that ownership and management was in a bit of flux at the time. George was ceding the reigns and Stienbrenner brothers Hank and Hal had yet to establish a functional ownership structure. Alex had Warren Buffet set up a direct meeting with ownership through a Goldman Sacks connection, and Scott Boras took the two novice owners to the cleaners, over the objections of their GM. Brian Cashman now runs these negotiations, in large part due to ownership understanding the mistake they made with Alex.
“Just give him the money”
And they haven’t already? They’ve already paid him more than any other player in Baseball history not named Alex Rodriguez, with a 45 mil parting gift tacked on for good measure. Here’s the table from BR:
|Career Salaries (may be incomplete)||Single-Season Salaries|
|Rank||Player||Career Salary||Player||Year Team||Salary|
|1.||Alex Rodriguez||$264,416,252||Alex Rodriguez||2009 NYY||$33,000,000|
|2.||Derek Jeter||$205,430,000||Alex Rodriguez||2010 NYY||$33,000,000|
|3.||Manny Ramirez||$204,807,769||Alex Rodriguez||2008 NYY||$28,000,000|
|4.||Barry Bonds||$188,245,322||Alex Rodriguez||2005 NYY||$26,000,000|
|5.||Randy Johnson||$175,550,019||CC Sabathia||2010 NYY||$24,285,714|
|6.||Gary Sheffield||$168,008,550||Manny Ramirez||2009 LAD||$23,854,494|
|7.||Greg Maddux||$153,845,000||Jason Giambi||2007 NYY||$23,428,571|
|8.||Ken Griffey||$151,703,682||Jason Giambi||2008 NYY||$23,428,571|
|9.||Carlos Delgado||$146,299,000||Alex Rodriguez||2007 NYY||$22,708,525|
|10.||Pedro Martinez||$146,259,585||Derek Jeter||2010 NYY||$22,600,000|
The current offer of 15 per year would pay Derek 2 mil more per year than any other SS in the game today, many of whom are better players at this stage of his career. Derek was 10th at his position in OPS and has long been at or near the bottom at his position by most advanced defensive metrics. They have paid him, and at 36 there is substantial risk in paying him based on current performance levels, since his skills figure to erode further over the next few years. The fact of the matter is the 3/45 deal is exceedingly generous when put in context. As Brian Cashman said, shop it around and see how it looks then.