The Yankees’ negotiations with “free agent” Derek Jeter have generated a whole lot of discussion around the baseball world, but in the end the results have little to no impact on their image. Even though they apparently do have a budget (around $215 million), Jeter’s salary is not going to be make or break on any potential acquisition, like Cliff Lee or Carl Crawford. And in terms of the product on the field, Jeter is roughly replacement-level, as in 2010 he was just 1.3 wins above replacement. That isn’t good (tied with Yuniesky Betancourt for 9th among AL shortstops), but by definition still 1.3 wins better than some replacement shortstop. All that leaves for Derek’s impact on the Yankees is their image.
As anyone can tell you, the verdict on whether a Yankees season is a success or not depends solely on one thing: a World Series championship. So, that means there are just 4 possible outcomes with respect to Jeter’s next contract:
- The Yankees win the championship with Derek Jeter-
Reaction: Brian Cashman is commended for sticking with the man who has been on so many winning teams before.
- The Yankees don’t win the championship with Derek Jeter-
Reaction: Cashman is blamed for paying an aging, average player as a superstar.
- The Yankees win the championship without Derek Jeter-
- The Yankees don’t win the championship without Derek Jeter-
Reaction: Cashman is maligned for “removing the soul” from the team, and everybody has to listen to ridiculous “we woulda won wit Jeetuh” comments from New Yorkers everywhere.
Overall, the first and third options are basically the same for the Empire’s image (positive) and so are the second and fourth options (negative). In other words, the Yankees’ next 3 or 4 years will be judged on whether they win a championship or not, regardless of the Captain’s presence. And how is that any different from any other time in the history of this franchise?