From Buster Olney’s ESPN blog:
“The Yankees’ belief is that their current three-year, $45 million offer is fair, and that by offering arbitration to Jeter, they essentially would bail him out after a down year. The Yankees feel that in the past, Jeter has fairly negotiated from his standing in the marketplace — when he went to arbitration in 1999, when he negotiated a 10-year, $189 million deal in 2001. And now the Yankees feel these talks should reflect Jeter’s place in the market; they also believe that no other team would be willing to pay him what they have offered. Here’s one big factor working against Jeter in this negotiation: While the Yankees want him and are offering him above what his market value is, they operate in the knowledge that if Jeter doesn’t re-sign — if he actually walks away — then his departure would not be a mortal blow to their pennant hopes in 2011. If Jeter walked away in 2001, that would have been different; he was an exceptional player then. Now he is a good player, but far from irreplaceable.”
I’m concerned for DJ. He’s building the largest, most expensive home on the water in Tampa a few miles from my mom’s pad. How’s he supposed to finish it and furnish it with a best-case scenario pay cut of $3.9m/year ($15m versus $18.9)? Last time I cycled by his crib there was a Porsche Panamera parked out front. Next time I ride by it will probably be a Toyota Highlander.
Sports analysts refer to DJ’s value to the Yankees in terms of his personal brand and argue it contributes to the team’s brand. In essence, approximately half of the proposed contract is a bonus for distinguishing himself from the other knuckleheads in the same locker room. Don’t mistake this for Yankee bashing, it’s pro athlete bashing more generally. It’s a sign of the sorry state of pro sports that Jeter has separated himself from the vast majority of ball players by doing what should be the norm, chasing foul balls into the stands, passing on p.e.d.s, and living within the laws of the land. In short, be a good citizen and we’ll pay you extra.
What intrigues me the most about these negotiations is the relative discipline of the SOS’s, “Sons of Steinbrenner.” A lot of financial analysts that study the wealthy predict that the vast majority of young adults of extremely wealthy parents will blow through their inherited wealth given their sense of entitlement and anemic work ethic. My guess is Steinbrenner would have signed DJ by now for more than is on the table. Props to the sons for their surprising, relative fiscal discipline.
Here’s what DJ should do. Sign the contract and say, “I’m well aware that functional unemployment is 17%. That awareness makes me even more appreciative of this contract which enables me to continue making a very good living playing a child’s game for the best franchise in professional sports. This is not a ceremonial signing. I will continue to work hard day in and day out to bring Yankee fans more joy over the next three seasons.”
“I’ll figure out,” he might add once the microphones and cameras are flipped off, “how to cut some costs on the new spread.”