First things first, why are we even talking about this?
Easy. The New York Yankees, for the first time ever, are playing hardball with a free-agent. Remember, this is the team that gave AJ Burnett $16.5 million a year to ‘pitch’ for them. AJ Burnett! He shouldn’t be trusted with a $5 contract to wash your car. Quick side-note, if a sloppy 10-15 record gets you $16.5 million, what can Cliff Lee expect on the free agent market? $ Infinity? For whatever reason (and perhaps freeing up the dollars for said side-note is that reason) the Yankees are drawing their line in the sand with Jeter.
The Yankees made a relatively low-ball offer (three-years at $15 million) to their captain and are quite literally daring the face of their organisation to go ahead and test free agency, and see if anyone will outbid them.
The negotiations are getting feisty.
The more Yankee friendly of media outlets are actually starting to print ridiculous headlines like; ‘’Jeter as the villain? It could happen!’’
Jeter’s agent is countering with statements like;
"Derek's significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees' negotiating strategy remains baffling."
Things are getting ugly.
What kind of offer could the Red Sox approach Jeter’s team with? It is surprisingly easy to envisage a decent, four year offer that could entice Jeter into hanging out with Pedroia, Lester and Bard for a few years. The Sox could attack with a front-loaded, four year option that would tick all of Jeter’s requirements.
Bear in mind, Buster Olney on ESPN reckons Jeter could command as much as $22 million in arbitration.
2011 - $20 million
2012 - $17.5 million
2013 - $16 million
2014 - $15 million
They could sweeten the deal further with performance incentives, perhaps dropping the latter year’s initial value and loading up with extras for winning awards or trophies. They could even think about adding a fifth year team-option, which would mean they could go to press saying they were offering five years, which sounds so much better than three.
The knock on effects of a simple, affordable offer such as the above would be beautiful for all Red Sox fans to behold. The panic in Yankee-nation would reach Zombie-invasion levels. The Yankee front office would be forced, at the very least, into some super tough decisions. Do they risk letting their icon move to Boston, and the subsequent wrath of their entire fan base? Do they up their offer? If so, they would have to improve it by a wide margin.
Just look at how these two offers look, when you see their basic description;
Offer A: Three years $45 million
Offer B: Five years $78.5 million
The Yankees would have to counter with the same number of years and a much higher dollar offer too.
Making a simple offer as described would result in a win-win situation for Boston. At very least, they force New York out of their cosy winter plans, shake the Yankee fan-base to their foundations, and force New York to spend a great deal more cash than they planned. If the Yankees decline to play ball, Boston ends up with one of the greatest clutch bats in Major League baseball history, and indeed deprive New York of same.
What’s not to like? Hey, if someone out there is willing to pay AJ Burnett $16.5 million to lose 15 games for them, that means its okay to pay a 36 year old shortstop $20 million to be a clutch bat, clubhouse presence and wildly experienced player for you, right?
Go ahead Boston, toss a proverbial wrench in the process, rattle some cages and see which way the dice fall.
Worst case scenario, Boston might finally end up with some closure and indeed revenge for that whole Bernie Williams fiasco. About time, too.