The year was 2000 and the New York Knicks just announced that they have Traded Patrick Ewing to the Seattle Supersonics for a package of players which included Glenn Rice and Luc Longley just to name a few. Never has goodbye felt so bitter but, as an organization, it was the right thing to do for the franchise and its future. The concept of when to let a beloved player go is one that is omnipresent in sports. Ladainian Tomlinson was let go by the San Diego Chargers last season as they believed he had nothing left in the proverbial gas tank. With each yard he gains for the New York Jets, he runs the Chargers further into the perils of regret.
Derek Jeter was named captain of the New York Yankees by the late George Steinbrenner in 2003. Making his major league debut in 1995, he went on to win Rookie of the Year and has been an instrumental part of 5 World Series Championship teams. Throughout his tenure as the Yankees short stop, Derek Jeter has been the face of the franchise. With a career .314 batting average and 2.926 hits, Derek Jeter is a first ballot Hall of Famer, but is coming off a year in which he batted .270, his second lowest batting average to end a season since 1995.
In the context of life, 36 is hardly old but for a Major League short stop, it’s close to approaching the twilight of their career. Derek Jeter is a free agent so Brian Cashman, the General Manager of the Yankees must decide what the value of a 36 year old short stop is. Correction, he must decide what the value of a 36 year old short stop names Derek Jeter is.
The current offer that has been reported is a 3 year deal worth an estimated 45 million dollars which is by most accounts, more than his market worth. So in this offer is his iconic value to the franchise included? Should the Yankees tell Jeter to field other offers and see compare them to what the Yankees have on the table? Has Jeter not sought arbitration when eligible to max out previous contracts? Or is there more than meets the eye?
Free agent pitcher Cliff Lee has reportedly been offered a 6 year deal worth somewhere in the 140 million dollar range. The difference, Cliff Lee is at the top of his game where many think Jeter is on the decline. And what about that guy who plays to Jeter’s right? You know, that Alex guy… he surely makes a ton of money, but is also producing at a Hall of Fame level.
So here stands the Yankees and Derek Jeter on the crossroads of loyalty and production. Sure, Derek Jeter means everything to the Yankees, but, does that meaning translate into fair market value? Or should he be able to make his demands and leave baseball on his own terms since this is more than likely his last contract barring a Bonds surge in production? The cameras are rolling and the world is watching to see which pitch the Yankees throw to Jeter with the count full at 3 and 2.