(Long Island, N.Y.) The worst kept secret of baseball’s off-season was Derek Jeter returning to the Yankees. No one really expected the perennial All-Star shortstop to go anywhere once he hit the open market and a brief period of negotiations that didn’t go as smoothly as expected were not enough to get in the way.
Both parties wanted it to happen even though the money seemed to be far apart during the drawn-out negotiation period. The Yankees made a three-year, $45 million offer while Jeter was looking more towards and upwards of the $20 million annual number. Ultimately, they settled on a three-year, $51 million contract with a player option for the 2014 season.
“This is the only organization I want to play for,” said Jeter. “This is where I want to finish my career. I’ve been vocal about that since Day One. I didn’t want to talk to any other teams.”
But the Yankee captain was not totally satisfied the way the media portrayed what was going on behind-the-scenes. “The thing that bothered me the most was how public this became,” he commented. “The negotiations were supposed to be private. I was in an uncomfortable position. I was angry how I was portrayed throughout this.now I have an ego and arrogance and I don’t think that was portrayed correctly.”
The reason for that was because Jeter had a rough season in 2010 and hit .44 points under his career average of .314, hitting only 10 home runs and driving in 67 runs. At 36 with obvious eroding skills, Jeter could not have expected to still command an enormous high salary. But he brings certain intangibles to the table that does not show up in the scorecard.
Consider the following: Jeter owns the highest personal career winning percentage (.601, 1,379-914-2), as well as appearing in more Yankee victories (1,379) than anyone else in the storied franchise’s 107-year history. Those are two accomplishments that are almost unfathomable and cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
“He embodies what the Yankees are all about – class, loyalty, championships, hard work, desire, passion for the game,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “We’re all fortunate that he’s back. I appreciate everything he does on the field, off the field and in our clubhouse.”
That last part of Girardi’s statement is a microcosm of what Jeter means to the Bronx Bombers. His mere presence is of the utmost importance and his leadership skills have been a constant since 1996. Year after year as his career went on, Jeter was the center of the core that won seven American League pennants and five World Series titles, the last coming in 2009.
Many quality players have come and gone in that time frame, from Paul O’Neill to Alex Rodriguez. But only Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera have been the only players part of every team from that dynasty. (Rivera is currently in negotiations to re-sign with the Yankees and is expected to stay in the Bronx, as well.)
Experience like that is priceless.