Posted by Sabrina B. @gametimegirl
It’s increasingly clear that the negotiations to keep Derek Jeter a Yankee will not be easy, even though both sides have said for months they want to continue their partnership. And the Yankees seem to be letting the world know they believe they hold powerful leverage over Jeter, who has spent his entire career as their shortstop.
Yankee president Randy Levine saidÂ Wednesday that Jeter is “allowed to test the market” and that it’s “a different negotiation than 10 years ago,” adding further intrigue to the developing talks with the free-agent shortstop.
While Levine was careful to praise Jeter several times Wednesday, noting that the shortstop is “one of the greatest Yankees ever,” he also kept pointing out that being in pinstripes has benefitted Jeter, too.
“All I can say is we think he’s a great Yankee, we think he’s been a great Yankee and we’ve been great for him and this is the best place for him,” Levine said. “But he’s a free agent and he’s allowed to test the market and do whatever he wants.”
Levine was the lone Yankee rep at the Waldorf Astoria here much of the day as Brian Cashman left the GM meetings to return to New York and continue his search for a pitching coach and Hal Steinbrenner returned briefly to Tampa for his daughter’s birthday. Levine said that he expects Cashman to have further talks with Jeter and other top free agent targets, including Cliff Lee, this week.
The Yankees, Levine indicated, are approaching the Jeter talks as purely a baseball matter, although the Yanks’ captain is often associated with certain intangibles.
“He’s a baseball player,” Levine said. “It’s a player negotiation. Everything he is and who he is gets factored in. But this isn’t a licensing deal or a commercial rights deal. He’s a baseball player.
“But with that said, you can’t take away from who he is. He brings a lot to the organization and we bring a lot to him…. Derek Jeter is a great Yankee, a great player. That said, now is a different negotiation than 10 years ago.”
Jeter was 26 when he signed the 10-year, $189 million deal that Levine referenced, a star entering his prime. Now he is 36 and coming off the worst season of his career. It’s unclear whether Jeter has much more of a market outside the Bronx – most in baseball believe he will return to the Yankees and that that is where he would make the most money, anyway.
Asked Wednesday to guess where Jeter would end up, one GM who requested anonymity said, “I’d say he stays. He’s too important to that franchise. They did let (Johnny) Damon walk, but this is Derek Jeter.”