Every fan of the New York Yankees can breath a little easier:
This past month has been by far the most tumultuous period of the Yankees’ otherwise cozy 18-year relationship with Derek Jeter, and it left an uneasy feeling across their empire. Even with his eventual return considered a certainty, the public dispute over the terms of his new contract was unsettling, evocative of parents quarreling: Jeter and the Yankees were never headed for a divorce, but the innocence had faded.
Their protracted stalemate finally ended Saturday when Jeter agreed to a three-year, $51 million deal that in all likelihood will be the last of his career. If Jeter exercises a creatively designed option for 2014, he will finish that season at age 40. Perhaps by then, the debate over Jeter’s value, which raged from barrooms to boardrooms, will have ceased.
Jeter’s performance in the first three years will determine how much the option year is worth. His option-year salary has an $8 million base, but he could earn an additional $9 million based on how he finishes in Most Valuable Player award balloting and whether he wins any Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards, according to a person in baseball briefed on the details of the contract. Picking up the option year is solely up to Jeter. The Yankees cannot choose to decline the option year, but if Jeter were to decide not to play a fourth season, the team would pay him a $3 million buyout. The deal, which was engineered by the team’s president, Randy Levine, and is pending a physical examination, was completed Saturday during a meeting among Jeter; his agent, Casey Close; the Yankees’ managing general partner, Hal Steinbrenner; General Manager Brian Cashman; and Levine.
Some of Jeter’s guaranteed $51 million is deferred, making his average annual salary closer to $16 million. That represents nearly a $3 million pay cut from his previous annual salary, $18.9 million, which he received in a 10-year pact that ran from 2001 to 2010, but he remains the highest-paid shortstop in baseball, ahead of Troy Tulowitzki, who last week agreed to a 10-year, $157.75 million deal to stay with Colorado.
For Jeter, maintaining that distinction could be construed as a victory, given that a shortstop who turns 37 in June would not have fetched as high a salary on the open market, perhaps not even half the four- to five-year deal for $23 million to $24 million a year he originally sought. But the Yankees prevailed, too, conceding little from their initial three-year offer for $45 million while ensuring that some of their concerns about Jeter’s recent on-field performance and future viability as a shortstop were understood and addressed.
Jeter has made more than $205 million from the Yankees, more than he ever thought possible — or was even necessary. In 1998, after learning that Mike Piazza had rejected an $80 million contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers, a 23-year-old Jeter emphasized all four syllables of “80 million” in an interview with The New York Times and said, “You can’t spend that much money in your lifetime.”
Well you’re gonna have to figure out something to do with it Derek.
Oh yea, you’ve got that girlfriend.