11/04/10 3:13 PM ET
Agent says Jeter's value can't be overstated
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Jeter and the Yankees are preparing for negotiations that managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has acknowledged "could get messy."
With the Yankees having concluded organizational meetings in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, general manager Brian Cashman has already reached out to Jeter's long-time representative, Casey Close. A new agreement is not expected to be reached quickly.
"While it is not our intent to negotiate the terms of Derek's free-agent contract in a public forum," Close told AOL FanHouse, "we do agree with Hal's and Brian's recent comments that this contract is about business and winning championships.
"Clearly, baseball is a business, and Derek's impact on the sport's most valuable franchise cannot be overstated. Moreover, no athlete embodies the spirit of a champion more than Derek Jeter."
Jeter, who turns 37 in June, is coming off a season in which he posted a career-low .270 batting average with 10 home runs and 67 RBIs. He hit .250 (10-for-40) with three doubles, a triple and two RBIs in the Yankees' nine postseason games against the Twins and Rangers.
The Yankees have said that re-signing both Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera are among their top priorities, but the dollar value and length of the deals will be the haggling points. Jeter earned $21 million in 2010, the final season of a 10-year, $189 million deal.
"Derek and Mo, obviously we want them back," Steinbrenner told WFAN this week. "They're hopefully lifelong Yankees, they're great leaders, they've been great Yankees. But we're running a business here. Having said that, if there's a deal to be done, it's going to have to be a deal both sides are happy with."
As they view the 2011 season, the Yankees envision keeping Jeter at shortstop, and the discussions could be impacted by how long Jeter is expected to keep the position he has owned since 1996.
The Yankees have shown no inclination to consider moving Jeter to an outfield position, and the designated-hitter role could be used as a landing spot for players like Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. New York's most likely candidate to succeed Jeter would be the largely untested Eduardo Nunez, who hit .280 in 50 at-bats this year.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi did acknowledge after the season that he was forced to put Jeter in the lineup more than he would have liked, which could have contributed to his diminished offensive numbers.
"I thought he swung the bat pretty well in the month of September and the playoffs for us," Girardi said. "He had a tough month, but I've also talked about that we played him more than we wanted to, when Alex went down and fighting for our division. But I still think he's a very good player."
Girardi also said that he might take a look at shuffling the batting order, where Jeter has been a top-of-the-lineup hitter. But Girardi said he would not make those decisions before Spring Training and believes it would be prudent to see if Jeter can spark a bounce-back campaign in '11.
"By asking that question, I think you're assuming that he's going to hit .270 again," Girardi said. "It might be a year when he hits .325 and you'll be talking about the Derek Jeter that we saw the year before."
Jeter will enter next season 74 hits shy of 3,000, a milestone no Yankees player has reached, and Jeter has said that he does not envision himself playing in another uniform.
"The intent of the players is to stay; they don't want to be anywhere else," Cashman said recently. "That creates a great atmosphere of getting something done."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.