Jeter had a $9.5 million player option for next season already in his current contract, and considering he played in 17-games in 2013 due to a recurring injury to his surgically repaired ankle, the $2.5 million raise must be incentive for something.
The rumor that this new deal lowers money counted toward the luxury tax is a farce, as Jeter’s new deal adds to payroll because of how it is calculated.
Rumor is the inherited owner Hal Steinbrenner actually mandated the deal himself with the 39-year old shortstop, which is out of the ordinary for him.
Contemplating Hal’s penny-pinching approach to his father’s Yankees made me curious about why he would hand a player a raise with so much risk.
The easiest argument is that it is Derek Jeter, a walking baseball icon that any team would be ecstatic to wear their uniform.
But this is the Hal who skimped on a starting catcher last off-season.
Everyone and their mother knows that Hal wants to keep the team’s payroll below $189 million next season, so every penny counts so why the raise for Jeter?
Here are some possibilities:
1) A thank you bonus for being one of the best Yankees ever. But Jeter has been paid pretty well for 16 years already to a tune of, give or take, around $250 million so it is not as if he got underpaid.
2) The raise is nothing considering the money Hal will save from not inking newly free agent second baseman Robinson Cano. Maybe Hal threw the extra cash in so that Jeter would sign ASAP? It makes sense to secure up the Captain before the fan base gets a slap in the face of frugality.
3) Maybe the bonus was so Jeter would announce his retirement prior to the start of the 2014 season, just like Mariano Rivera did last year. This makes sense if Hal plans to keep the payroll under $189 million, as they will have to exploit any reason to convince fans to pay the enormous ticket prices to see a game at Yankees Stadium. Come see Jeter one last time in the Bronx, and ignore the fact that the team stinks.
Another farewell tour might annoy Jeter’s peers around baseball as well as fans. Mo’s goodbye was enough for a few years, as the Yankees will look egotistical, and that is the last adjective Jeter would want to be linked too.
The question I have is whether Hal’s intentions were a genuine thank you to Jeter or if it comes with an asterisk?
There is good reason to wonder here, as Hal words tend to not match his actions when it comes to his father’s team.
As the saying goes, only time will tell.