Yankees should overpay to retain Derek Jeter

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter throws during practice for their American League Championship Series baseball playoff against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, October 14, 2010.  REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

I gasped when I read ESPN.com’s Wallace Matthews’ report about how much the Yankees were going to spend on Derek Jeter this winter.

Forty-five-to-sixty million? Absurd.

But the shock only lasted about a minute before I realized that the Yankees should spend that much to retain their starting shortstop.

There’s no question that Jeter’s game has deteriorated. After posting career numbers in 2009, he finished with a career-low in batting average (.270), slugging percentage (.370) and on-base percentage (.340) last season. His range at shortstop is also limited and he certainly doesn’t make the plays we’ve been accustomed to seeing him make over the years.

But the Yankees make, have and spend more money than any baseball team in the league. And when you have a player that has meant as much to your organization as Jeter has to New York, you show him your appreciation as he knocks on the door of retirement.

In any other market, paying a fading player $60 million would be suicide. It would set that club back for years, but the Yankees have the luxury of handing out money like fliers on the Vegas Strip. Paying Jeter $60 million (or $45 million, or whatever) is a drop in the bucket for them. It’s more important that they take care of the player that has helped them win five World Series championships over the past two decades.

Maybe Matthews is off with his numbers. Maybe Jeter and the Yankees will settle on a respectable final contract that will work for both sides. Maybe will take less money to stay in the Big Apple.

Or maybe the Yankees will overpay a player that is now akin to the legends that came before him. Either way, the Bombers will take care of their captain.

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