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Will Derek Jeter's slump seriously impact his next contract?

May 24, 2010, 10:35 AM EST

Buster Olney runs down how Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, while not having terrible seasons, are off their typical pace.  With respect to Jeter, Olney offers the following:

And for Jeter, there is more at stake here beyond the Yankees’ dream of
winning back to back championships. Jeter’s 10-year contract is set to
expire at the end of this year, and a significant diminishment of
production will ultimately be read as the inevitable manifestation of
time, and could have a great impact on the offer he gets from the
Yankees. Right now, his OPS is 128 points lower than his career average,
and if that stands, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees offering him a
four- or five-year deal at one of the highest salaries in the majors.

I think it will be the press who reads a bad 2010 for Derek Jeter as “the inevitable manifestation of time” and it will be the press who suggests that his contract should/could be lower as a result. The Yankees themselves will probably acknowledge the manifestation privately, conclude that it is irrelevant in the case of Derek Jeter and offer him a top contract regardless.

It has been said so often that it approaches cliche, but Jeter really is different.  I think the Yankees will gladly overpay as an investment in fan loyalty, marketing, historical continuity and all manner of things like that.

I was a tad skeptical of that, actually, but then I saw the whole Ken Griffey thing go down in Seattle. As soon as people started going after him a couple of weeks ago Mariners fans came out of the woodwork to defend the guy and attack anyone who dared to suggest that he didn’t deserve to still be on the team. Even if Jeter suffers a production decline like Griffey’s, the army supporting him will be 100 times larger and more ferocious.

The Yankees don’t want any part of angering that crowd. They’ll give Jeter his contract. If and when he becomes a Griffey-size millstone, they’ll figure it out then. For now, however, his millions are safe.

  1. Jason@IIATMS - May 24, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    “For now, however, his millions are safe”. Because he never got married.
    Tiger Woods, this is Chase Bank calling. Please check your balance.

  2. Jonny5 - May 24, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    I think it’s much to early in the season to even write this article, let alone take it to heart. And on the other hand this is Derek Jeter so he’ll probably get a contract based on that and not his production for this season if his mini slump continues.

  3. YankeesfanLen - May 24, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    A contract problem for Jeter? Jesus freakin’ JETER? You think there is unrest and civil strife in Third World countries. A politician would sooner touch the third rail of Social Security than the Yankees would ever resort to doing other than write the check.
    FINIS

  4. JudyJ - May 24, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    Sure, this will affect his contract the same way this “poor” week in the season will affect the Yankees. This is a silly thread that has no merit. The Mets beat the defending World Series champions this weekend – and that is something to be proud of. Unfortunately, the Mets would be best served if they were focusing on the series against the Phillies this week – where it counts for something.

  5. Joey B - May 24, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    “Even if Jeter suffers a production decline like Griffey’s, the army supporting him will be 100 times larger and more ferocious.”
    Of course, you’re comparing sticking with a guy one a one-year contract for $2.4M is is their #25 guy, with someone who might be asking for $150M/6 to be your starting SS. As I’ve said along along, Jeter will ask (and rightfully so) why the NYY were willing to sign a PED user to age 42, if they are willing to do the same thing for Jeter. Jeter was the better all-around player last year, and he is about the most popular Yankee of all-time. This one will be fun to watch.

  6. Conor - May 24, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    On May 25, 2004 Jeter was hitting .189 with a .528 OPS. He finished the season hitting .292 with a .823 OPS. Yeah, he may be 36 instead of 30, but it’s still way, way too early to think there is anything wrong or that Jeter will finish the season far off of his career numbers.
    Furthermore, even if he does have his worst year, barring serious injury, he’s still getting 3,000 hits next year. If he wants to play until 42, he could have a remote shot at 4,000. Even if he plays like Biggio did his last couple of years (at 40 and 41), he would still be making a good run at the most hits ever by a shortstop (Wagner, 3420). Needless to say, just having him out there going for hits will generate a lot of publicity and marketing opportunities for the Yankees.
    This contract will be taken care of without much fanfare or controversy, at least from a ballplayer/front office standpoint.

  7. Moses Green - May 24, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    3 bad weeks. As long as he’s not hurt he’ll be fine.
    They’re the Yankees. They’ll write him the checks and if and when he’s not worth it they’ll move him to DH and live with it. Then he’ll be an overpaid “Pinstripe Ambassador”, then an owner, then Governor of New York, then President of the United States.
    MARK MY WORDS!!!
    Once you’ve gone through Adriana Lima, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Vanessa Minillo, Jordana Brewster and Lara Dutta – there is no ceiling. There’s no limit, and the Universe had better be ever-expanding or Derek Jeter will bend it to his will and force expansion.

  8. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - May 24, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    with someone who might be asking for $150M/6 to be your starting SS. As I’ve said along along, Jeter will ask (and rightfully so) why the NYY were willing to sign a PED user to age 42, if they are willing to do the same thing for Jeter. Jeter was the better all-around player last year, and he is about the most popular Yankee of all-time. This one will be fun to watch

    It’s not a valid comparison. For one, Arod is far better, younger, and with the milestones approaching, will be a far better draw than Jeter will. Jeter has the hits milestones to reach, and beyond 3500 most will almost be impossible to get. Arod can finish with most career HR’s, most career RBI’s, can match almost all of Jeter’s hit numbers (he’s only about 200 behind and a year younger), etc. Also, while Arod’s contract is a monster now, his actually declines in AAV if he doesn’t hit all the milestones.

  9. Joey B - May 24, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    “It’s not a valid comparison. For one, Arod is far better, younger, and with the milestones approaching, will be a far better draw than Jeter will. Jeter has the hits milestones to reach, and beyond 3500 most will almost be impossible to get.”
    1-He isn’t far better. As a matter of fact, Jeter was far better last year. The difference between a .933 OPS and an .871 OPS is not nearly the difference between a good fielding SS and a poor fielding 3B.
    2-ARod is younger, but if we are talking about signing both until they are 42, then the relative ages don’t matter. If they thought ARod could play 3B at age 42, why not sign Jeter to play SS at age 42?
    3-Given that the NYY are close to a sellout, the draw issue doesn’t matter, and I’d still bet that Jeter is more popular, and hence a better draw, that ARod.
    Again, I’d love to hear the NYY explain why ARod is worth $30M per until he is 42, and Jeter isn’t even worth $25M until he is 42. In the end, as Craig said, they’ll just pay him. Heck, I’m cheap, and even I see no way out.

  10. Chris - May 24, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    “I think the Yankees will gladly overpay as an investment in fan loyalty, marketing, historical continuity and all manner of things like that.”
    And they’ll probably consider it money well spent. Unlike the 80s has-beens that the Yankees imported and overpaid for, this is a guy who has been the face of the franchise for 15 years. He’s a guy who fans DO turn out to watch, sometimes even on the road, and to this point he’s about as squeaky clean as athletes come. That makes it as much a business decision as a baseball decision.
    This is the exception that proves the rule regarding “better to cut them a year early than a year late.”

  11. Steve S. - May 25, 2010 at 7:10 AM

    Craig, I don’t dispute anything you said but Derek has a carefully crafted image as the consummate ‘team-first’ player. If he is viewed as hanging on to a position he can’t play adequately defensively, and is hitting below league average as well, then the entire Jeter equation changes for many fans and media. That will affect the intangible value he would have in his last contract with the team. As big as Derek is, the Yanks and their commitment to winning is bigger, and no one player can be viewed as putting himself before that.

  12. Steve S. - May 25, 2010 at 7:11 AM

    Craig, I don’t dispute anything you said but Derek has a carefully crafted image as the consummate ‘team-first’ player. If he is viewed as hanging on to a position he can’t play adequately defensively, and is hitting below league average as well, then the entire Jeter equation changes for many fans and media. That will affect the intangible value he would have in his last contract with the team. As big as Derek is, the Yanks and their commitment to winning is bigger, and no one player can be viewed as putting himself before that.

  13. JudyJ - May 25, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    Moses – you forgot Mariah Carey – how could you?

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