Posted by Teix4MVP
Derek Jeter has been the face of the Yankees franchise for 15 years. One of three captains of the league (the others being Jason Varitek of the Red Sox and Paul Konerko of the White Sox), he has 5 World Series rings and is still looking for more at age 36. He has been a staple in the pinstriped uniform since his rookie year in 1996, but his contract is up after this season. People know that he’ll be back in the Bronx next year, but how much money is enough?
People say that his next contract could be for 3-4 years and 45-60 million dollars. Knowing the Yankees, of course they’ll pay that much to keep Jeter around. But is it really necessary? Let’s take a look at some of the numbers:
Derek’s slash line this year is .260/.330/.372, his worst career totals since he got called up in 1995, although that year he played in only 15 games. That makes this season his worst full season during his career. According to FanGraphs, his WAR this year is a measly 1.7, another career worst.
His fielding isn’t much better. His UZR is a -6.8 this season, compared to a positive 6.4 last year. His RngR, which determines how many runs a fielder is compared to the league average, is a -12. That is not good at all for the Yankees being that he plays shortstop, which means that he might need to find a new position soon.
Derek’s really not having a good year. In fact, it’s one of his worst. So why do the Yankees feel compelled to offer a declining, aging shortstop 15 MM a year?
They could be using that to help their farm system or sign players that deserve at least a piece of that pie, like Nick Swisher. They could lock up Phil Hughes later on or save that cash to help with the AJ Burnett mess if they decide to try a salary dump later on, or do something else, I don’t care. Just don’t waste all of it on Jeter. And this is coming from me, the Yankees fan, the one that grew up following his career, the one who has bought close to 15 of his player t-shirts, replacing them whenever the letter came off on his old one or he grew out of it. The one that had more or less of a shrine to him, complete with posters and signed ball and bats. The one that turned a blind eye or a deaf ear whenever he struck out or the critics told him that he was overrated.
Jeter was the ultimate Yankees hero, the biggest fan favorite since Ruth in the Bronx. But sometimes, you have to face it: Jeter is a 1.7 WAR player, and he wouldn’t get more than a 2-year deal from anywhere but New York. The Yankees are unnecessarily bidding against themselves for an aged hero who isn’t a sure thing.
There are other options on the market that aren’t all-stars, but they can help fill the position of shortstop, where there really isn’t much depth. Orlando Cabrera has batted about the same as Jeter, but he has a 5.6 UZR, meaning he is a little above average with the glove. Omar Infante or Alex Gonzalez could be on the open market, if the Braves decide not to exercise one of their options and decline the other, but you’ll probably see them both in Atlanta next year. But honestly, the FA market doesn’t offer much more than a bat and a glove to slot in a lineup.
The trade market doesn’t offer much depth either. Stephen Drew was said to be available, but it’d probably take a lot to get him. Drew is a productive offensive shortstop, hitting .268/.342/.439 with 12 HRs, and a UZR of 5.4 this season making him a 3.6 WAR player. Jason Bartlett is an option too, and there are other bodies you can put at shortstop like Ronny Cedeno, but there isn’t really a top trade target at shortstop other than Drew.
Let’s compare Jeter to Marco Scutaro. Scutaro got a two year, 11MM commitment from the Red Sox last off season. Jeter would make almost three times that if he signed a 45 million dollar deal for 3 years. Jeter’s performance would almost echo Scutaro’s, yet the deep pocket Yankees feel like signing him for more cash just because they can.
Not that I’m saying Jeter shouldn’t be re-signed. He obviously should and will be signed by the Yankees to continue on his legacy. I am saying that maybe this is a sign that he might finally be truly overrated this time. Of course there are fans that are STILL beyond crazed about him, one Blue Jays fan I know even went as far as saying that he’s better than Hanley Ramirez at age 36. But Jeter, the glory days could be over. And if or when they are, I hope you’ll be the guy I was a fan of and admit it to yourself, and the Yankees, because you owe us that much. You owe yourself that much.