Agent on Derek Jeter: '(His) Impact Cannot Be Overstated'
"While it is not our intent to negotiate the terms of Derek's free-agent contract in a public forum," Casey Close told FanHouse, "we do agree with Hal's and Brian (Cashman, the GM)'s recent comments that this contract is about business and winning championships.
"Clearly, baseball is a business, and Derek's impact on the sport's most valuable franchise cannot be overstated. Moreover, no athlete embodies the spirit of a champion more than Derek Jeter."
Close declined further comment, but his words make clear that he and Jeter will seek a deal that rewards Jeter not just for his performance on the field -- which declined in 2010, at age 36, but was still top-five among AL shortstops -- but also for the value he adds to the franchise.
Steinbrenner, the Yankees' managing general partner, told WFAN the following:
"He's one of the greatest Yankees in history, no doubt about it. But at the same time, I'm running a business. I have responsibilities. (Brother and co-chairperson) Hank and I are responsible to our partners, so on, so forth. So we have to remain somewhat objective. And we're going to do that. And I want to get a deal done that he's happy with, but also that I'm happy with."
And he told the local ESPN radio affiliate something similar:
"Who knows? You just never know with these things. Both parties need to be happy with the deal, and that may make things more complicated, I don't know. There's always the possibility that things could get messy.
"I know our fans are very emotional and that's what we love about them. But I've got to do my job on behalf of the partnership and our partners and everybody else involved in the organization. Hank and I need to keep a level head and realize that we're running a business here. We have to remain somewhat objective and we're going to do that."
Jeter is a free agent for the first time in his career, coming off a 10-year, $189 million deal. A debate rages in New York over how much the Yankees should offer Jeter, and what he would accept.
In a vacuum, a 36-year-old shortstop who hit .270 with a .710 OPS (Jeter's career lows for a full season) wouldn't command much on the open market. So it will be up to Close and Jeter to appeal to Stenbrenner's business sense and sell the Yankees on how much Jeter has meant and will mean to the team's brand.
In other words, it sounds like Close will tell the Yankees: Would the team have been able to charge $2,500 for front-row seats without the presence of Jeter? Or would the $1.2 billion stadium even have been built without Jeter's contributions on the field, and his star power away from it? And what is the value of the rating the Yankees' YES Network will get early next season as he chases 3,000 hits (he needs 74)?
By the way, Jeter's .710 OPS was fourth among regular AL shortstops, and he actually led league shortstops (100 or more games) in runs created, with 83.
Certainly, the Yankees brand helps Jeter (in endorsements, particularly) as much as he helps increase the value of the brand. But Close's statement seems to indicate that Jeter would like to be paid for helping make Steinbrenner and his partners rich.