Two stories with big implications emerged over night. Most important to Yankee fans, Derek Jeter and the team are now reported to be very close to a deal. According to RAB the agreement is around $51 million for three years, perhaps with a fourth year as an option. For a long time I’ve felt the Yankees were more likely to hold firm on the number of years in a contract for Jeter than on the dollars. I want the team and its Captain to come to an agreement quickly so I can enjoy watching Jeter pick up his 3,000th hit next season. $17 million a year is more than generous, and won’t block the team from pursuing Cliff Lee. Hopefully this gets wrapped up soon.
As important as Jeter is to the Yankees’ organization, the bigger news is that the Red Sox are on the verge of adding that big, middle of the order bat they’ve needed since they failed to sign Mark Teixeira. Pending a physical, Adrian Gonzalez will bring his talents to Beantown next season. Once again, according to RAB, the deal includes top pitching prospect Casey Kelly, and gives the Sox a window of time to negotiate an extension with Gonzalez.
The Red Sox have coveted Gonzalez for a while. For those who don’t know, Gonzalez is a first overall pick and a serious left handed hitter. He’s hit at least 24 homers every season since 2006, including a career high 40 in 2009, and has put up a wOBA of at least .360 each season during that same period. He’s also a respectable first baseman in the field.
While it was entirely expected that the Sox were going to pursue Gonzalez, it is a bit surprising that they traded for him now. Gonzalez would have been a free-agent at the end of this year, meaning that if the Red Sox had only waited they probably could have had him without giving up prospects after the season ended because he was certain to entertain an offer from them. This suggests that the Sox are either anxious to make some noise for the sake of banging pots and pans together, or that the team genuinely felt it wouldn’t be competitive in 2011 without more pop in the lineup. With Victor Martinez gone the Sox were certain to make a move, it is just surprising that this was the move.
Finally, this has trickle down implications for Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. It’s hard to imagine a situation where the Sox hand out a probable nine-figure contract extension to Gonzalez, and then lever up on a corner outfielder, although stranger things have happened. If the Yankees and Sox are about to sit out the bidding for Crawford and Werth their price tags will have to come down considerably. Either way, the Hot Stove season just took it up a notch.