It's hard to believe that 2010 is the final year of Derek Jeter's contract and he'll be a free agent after the season. It's even harder to believe that the New York Yankees have made it clear they will not discuss a contract extension until after the season.
So when asked about it, Jeter responded--
"I think it is unfair to talk about myself when we are trying to win. I know it might cause a lot of speculation and maybe a few stories. But it won't be a distraction because I won't talk about it. I can't think about what happens after this year. I'll say it again: This is the only organization I want to play for. I can't say that enough times."
Well, I guess it's pretty clear who'll have first dibs at Jeter when he becomes a free agent after this season. But even mentioning the term free agency in the same sentence with Jeter feels kind of weird. When he signed his monstrous 10-year $189 million contract back in 2001, he admitted that he signed for as long as possible just to avoid free agency and to avoid even talking about free agency.
I guess there's a first time for everything-- even for the player who's name has become synonymous with Yankee pinstripes.
But I highly doubt this issue will be a big story come the off-season. My prediction: Jeter signs a 5-year, $110 million contract, which will keep him in pinstripes until age 41.
A quick note on the Johnny Damon front:
I think the Damon-Yankee parting is a bummer. And I believe both sides share the blame. Damon demanded too much (2-years, $26 million) and the Yankees offered too little (2-years, $14 million). They could have met each other halfway, at let's say-- 2-years, $20 million.
My suspicion is that the Yankees played hardball, not because of Damon, but because of his agent Scott Boras. After all, Boras' relationship with Yankee brass is not exactly all lovey-dovey. And the Yankees' excuse that they are cutting payroll is just plain lame. I mean, the Yankees worrying about payroll is like Warren Buffett cutting back on household expenses because times are hard. Get real!
After the Alex Rodriguez fiasco of two years ago, I think Boras overextended his welcome at Yankees' headquarters. So trying to make demands to the most powerful organization in baseball for an aging Johnny Damon, was a bad business move on Boras' part. I guess he didn't learn his lesson from the A-Rod drama when A-Rod had to dump Boras and throw himself at the mercy of the Yankees. I mean, both Boras and A-Rod were on Fantasy Island when they shunned the Yankees and thought they could get the kinda loot they were asking for from another organization. A-Rod had to come back (without Boras) and literally beg for forgiveness.
In the end, the loser in this latest Boras flop was Damon, who ended up having to take a one-year, $8 million deal from the Detroit Tigers. I'm sure he wishes the Yankees 2-year, $14 million deal was still on the table.
But that's the business of baseball. I guess the lesson to be learned is-- don't mess with The Empire.
Photos courtesy of the AP