Both Yankee mainstays Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are free agents and both are playing hardball in early negotiations. Jeter's agent and the Yankees are far apart in years and money, with the Yankees reportedly offering a three year deal worth 45 million dollars and Jeter seeking a six year deal worth 20 million annually.
Jeter is coming off a year in which he hit the lowest since his rookie season, posting a .270 average, 11 home runs, and a .340 on base percentage. The Yankees fully intend to keep Jeter. He has been the best franchise pick the team has made in recent memory, starting his tenure with the club in 1992.
It's going to come down to who can play the negotiating game better. No one over the age of 35 should be signed to a five year deal, in the majority of circumstances. This is really no different. Despite his age, it is simply not worth the risk for the Yankees at that position for that amount of time. If the Yankees can stand by their argument, they will eventually force Jeter to come terms on a deal that is reasonable for both sides, or force him to look for jobs on the open market in an attempt to drive up the Yankees' offer. Could it become that intense?
On the open market, Jeter would hardly be worth the 10-20 million dollars the Yankees intend to sign him for. Jeter was at the top of the hits, runs, and walks categories for shortstops, but didn't match up in any of the other offensive categories. His range is in question, and in a long term deal there is a slight chance he would need to switch positions. He will certainly draw interest on the open market, but it won't be on the long-term deal he is seeking.
In the end, the Yankees have the edge and always will until Jeter comes to terms or forces the Yankees into a bidding war with other teams.
The Mariano Rivera situation is slightly different because Mo was as dominant as ever this past season. He is seeking a two year deal worth 18 million dollars a year, with the Yankees reportedly looking to offer a one year deal. Since Mariano has put up three solid years in his three-year contract, the Yanks will likely concede with Mo and offer him a two-year deal in the range of 14-16 million dollars annually. A performance based option could be included as a concession from the Rivera front.
Don't be surprised to see the negotiations drag on into January, which is quickly becoming a Hot stove month in the past few years. The Yankees are trying to sign Cliff Lee, or another pitcher, along with bolstering the outfield and bullpen. They'll be on a tight schedule.