I can't help but be somewhat amused by the negotiations taking place between the Yankees and free agent shortstop Derek Jeter.
Early indications were that Jeter and his agent were asking the Bombers for a six-year, $150 million deal. More recently we hear that the numbers were "overstated," and sources now indicate that a four- to five-year deal worth $23-24 million annually will get the job done.
Look, there's no argument to the fact that Jeter has meant a lot to the New York Americans for several years. He's the face of that franchise, The contract that just ended was worth an average of more than $18 million a year over the past 6 seasons. But, c'mon, Jeter is 36 years old (37 next June), and saw his batting average tumble 64 points and his OPS drop by 161 points in 2010. Sure, he won another Gold Glove, but that's not always a reliable indicator of fielding brilliance. His prime years are past. It's not like the Yankees are offering him chump change; a three-year, $45 million contract is pretty good by any standards.
That New York has told him to go ahead and test the market speaks volumes about the approach the Steinbrenner children are taking with the ballclub. Dad's gone, and the sons are going to keep a closer eye on the pursestrings. Already I've seen comments like "Give him what he wants, they can afford it..." That doesn't matter. In a game where you're paid on what you did last year, the Yankees are taking what I'm sure they believe is a fiscally responsible strategy. They know Jeter doesn't really want to play anywhere else, and they believe he'll come way down in his request.
The idea that Jeter and his agent believe that he'll still be an All-Star caliber everyday player in his early 40's shows no shortage of self-confidence. Good for them. Jeter's future Hall of Fame plaque will show him in a Yankee cap regardless of how these negotiations play out, and in the end, that may be all that matters to Hank and Hal Steinbrenner.
And no, I don't see the Nationals talking to Jeter, even though you've heard they've spoken with Tampa Bay about shortstop Jason Bartlett. He'd sell some tickets, certainly, but the novelty would wear off eventually. An outlay of that much cash needs to bring about a trophy, not just a trophy player.