Derek Jeter contract situation getting interesting in New York

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter removes his batting helmet after being defeated by the Boston Red Sox in their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts October 3, 2010.   REUTERS/Greg M. Cooper (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Normally, whether or not a 36-year-old shortstop with declining skills gets a new contract isn’t big offseason news in baseball. But when that shortstop is Derek Jeter, it’s somewhat compelling stuff. (Ok, so “compelling” might be too strong of a word. “Interesting” would probably be more like it.)

Less than a week ago, the Yankees reportedly offered Jeter a three-year, $45 million contract. Based on his age, his numbers last year and his declining defensive play, most would agree that that’s a pretty fair offer. But Jeter’s agent Casey Close said that the Yankees’ negotiating strategy during contract talks for his client have been “baffling.”

“There’s a reason the Yankees themselves have stated Derek Jeter is their modern-day Babe Ruth,” Close said. “Derek’s significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees’ negotiating strategy remains baffling. They continue to argue their points in the press and refuse to acknowledge Derek’s total contribution to their franchise.”

Chances are if Jeter were to test the open market, he wouldn’t find a better deal than the one the Yankees are offering. And it just so happens that that’s what GM Brian Cashman instructed the Yankee captain to do recently.

When asked about the negotiation process, Cashman said: “He should be nothing but a New York Yankee. He chooses not to be.” He went on to say that Jeter “should test the market” if he doesn’t approve of the club’s offer and that the Yankees have offered multiple deals and received just one counter offer.

But more recently, SI.com’s Jon Heyman wrote that the Yankees will likely sweeten their current offer to the free agent. If they do, it should be viewed as a generous move by the club, especially in light of how they would already be overpaying him at three years and $45 million. While Jeter certainly has meant a lot to the Yankees organization, he seems to be overestimating his worth right now. There’s no way he’d come close to earning that much money for that many years on the open market and if the Bombers were to sweeten the deal, it would be staggering if he and his agent declined their offer.

In the end, Jeter will most likely remain in pinstripes. The Yankees aren’t going to let one of their legends play for another club and while these talks have gotten somewhat ugly over the last couple of days, it’s just business in the end. He’ll be back, but grab your popcorn because if these last couple of days are any indication, things are about to get interesting in the Bronx over the next month.

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Yankees on the verge of trading for Cliff Lee?

New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman stands for the National Anthem during the Yankees World Series victory celebration on the steps of City Hall in New York on November 6, 2009. UPI/Michael Appleton/Pool Photo via Newscom

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are on the brink of trading for Mariners’ ace Cliff Lee.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik have been in constant contact over the last week, but it was only last night that the Seattle GM told Yankee officials he wanted to move quickly, possibly before the All-Star break.

The Yanks were not assured of obtaining Lee since other clubs such as the Mets, Twins and Rangers were in talks. But the Yanks were definitely making the strongest move last night, coming from seeming disinterest into the clear front-runner and last night it seemed they were all but certain to obtain the 31-year-old lefty.

In an odd twist, Lee is scheduled to pitch against the Yankees tonight in Seattle. Lee is 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA and an amazing 89 strikeouts to just six walks. He beat the Yankees twice in the World Series last year, the only two games the Yankees lost in the Fall Classic.

This would be a surprising but predictable outcome. For the past month, the Rangers, Mets and Twins were the clubs that were centered on trading for Lee. But of course, seemingly out of nowhere, Brian Cashman swoops in and nabs another stud for his all-star roster. (Lee, Sabathia, Pettitte, Burnett and Vazquez? Dear, Barbara…)

If this deal goes down, the collective heads of Yankee haters are going to explode. “Typical Yankees” they’ll say. But keep in mind that this would be a trade; the Mariners can deal with whichever team they want and if they decide that it’s the Yankees, then you can’t blame Cashman for wanting to make a deal. Yes, the Bombers have a sizeable advantage when it comes to signing and retaining free agents. But when it comes to trades they have as much to lose as anyone seeing as how they’re giving up more than money in a deal. It’s up to Zduriencik to get fair compensation for Lee and if he were smart, he’d play all of the teams against each other in order to get the best deal possible. (Don’t rule out the possibility that he’s using Cashman and the Yankees to get more out of the Rangers or Mets either.)

This isn’t a done deal and the Rangers (who were reportedly the front-runners for Lee just yesterday) could still make a play. But history tells us that if Cashman and the Yankees are involved, they’ll probably get their man.

Typical Yankees.

Vaccaro: Torre ruined his legacy

Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post writes that Joe Torre has ruined his legacy in the wake of his new book, which trashes Yankee management and takes shots his former players like Alex Rodriguez.

Joe TorreThis book of yours, “The Yankee Years,” is that classy, Joe? Does it dignify what those 12 remarkable years were to baseball, to this city and, not incidentally, to your career? Was it necessary to air the fact that his teammates call Alex Rodriguez – an awfully easy target, by the way, Joe, and also a guy who won two MVPs while playing for you – “A-Fraud,” or to liken him to the crazed Jennifer Jason Leigh character in “Single White Female”?

Seriously, Joe. Did you even see “Single White Female”?

Why would you take shots at Brian Cashman? All he did during that lengthy post-2000 time, when you weren’t winning championships, was defend you exhaustively – to fans, to the press, to fellow Yankee executives, to various and sundry Steinbrenners, to your old front-office pal Randy Levine.

You never much cared to admit this, Joe, but Cashman was your boss. He could have sold you out. He didn’t.

Cashman deserved better, Joe. So did the Yankees. And, most important, so did you. You transformed yourself as a Yankee, earned yourself a certain Hall of Fame plaque.

There were lots of people who thought you were exiled wrongly in 2007, who winced when you hinted at a possible grudge with the Yankees, who figured, no, Joe is bigger than that. Joe is better than that.

Were we really that wrong, Joe? Really?

If you wanted to hurt the Yankees, Joe, understand this: Yesterday at Legends Field in Tampa, workers were manicuring the field, watering the lawn, getting ready for another spring training once the Super Bowl leaves town.

At the minor-league complex just down Dale Mabry Boulevard, kids were working out. Jorge Posada was said to have taken some swings. Derek Jeter will be here this week.

The Yankees have moved on, Joe. Isn’t it time you did, too?

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – this doesn’t seem like Joe’s style.

I haven’t read the book, but already this doesn’t seem like a classy way to go about things. No matter how wronged Torre believes he was by the Yankees, you always take the high road. Most people in New York were going to remember Joe as the World Series-winning manager in pinstripes – and they still might. But this book definitely casts a shadow over Torre’s great career. Instead of remembering how great of a manager he was in the Bronx, people are going to point to when he called Alex Rodriguez, “A-Fraud” in his book. Is that how Joe wanted to be remembered?

Is the Yankee office split on whether to sign Manny?

According to the New York Daily News, several members in the Yankees’ front office are split on whether or not to pursue free agent Manny Ramirez.

Two other officials are skeptical that the Bombers would commit three years to the enigmatic Ramirez, who has already seen the Dodgers make and withdraw a two-year, $45 million offer this winter. Both of them believe the Yankees will linger in the background while agent Scott Boras works to gather offers, and if the market is limited, the Yanks will try to jump in with a two-year, $50 million package.

According to a source familiar with the Yankees’ thinking, Brian Cashman has been lukewarm to the idea of signing Ramirez, but the rest of the front office – most notably Hal and Hank Steinbrenner – believes he is precisely what the Yankees need to bolster a lineup that underachieved in 2008.

It’s unlikely that Boras will let Ramirez sign anywhere until Mark Teixeira makes his decision, since the teams that fail to land the first baseman could decide to take a run at Ramirez as an alternative. The Red Sox, Angels, Nationals and Orioles are believed to be the final four teams in the running for Teixeira, and aside from the Red Sox, the other three could try to sign Ramirez if they don’t get Teixeira. The Dodgers could also jump back in the mix once the market for him clears up.

Well, if it’s the Steinbrenner brothers vs. Cashman, there’s no question who’ll win that battle. The Yankees are going to make a push for Ramirez, but not before they drive the asking price for Mark Teixeira through the roof. After handing out huge contracts to CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, it’ll be interesting to see how much the Bombers wind up offering Manny if they eventually do decide to pursue him.

Brian Cashman re-ups with Yankees

According to Newsday, Brian Cashman has agreed to a three-year deal to remain general manager of the New York Yankees.

STATEMENT FROM BRIAN CASHMAN
NEW YORK YANKEES SR. VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER
RE: RE-SIGNING WITH YANKEES THROUGH 2011

“I know I’ve said it before, but it’s an incredible opportunity and honor to hold the title of general manager for the New York Yankees. With it comes a great responsibility to ownership, the people who wear the uniform and our fan base.

“I’ve got a job to finish here. That’s the bottom line.

“I consider coming off a season where we didn’t reach the playoffs for the first time since 1993 as a personal challenge. I’ve never been one to run from a challenge, and I look forward to having the chance to go after this thing again.”

And with this news, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the Yankees will target CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez, Adam Dunn, Carl Crawford, Ben Sheets, Rafael Furcal, Milton Bradley and Pat Burrell this offseason. Wait – that was going to happen with or without the club re-signing Cashman.

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