Wallace Matthews has a report up on ESPN New York today under the headline "Source: Derek Jeter, Yanks at odds." That's the sort of headline that's seemed inevitable all along: Jeter, the aging future Hall of Famer, at odds over negotiations with the only organization he's ever played for. All along, we've been told this could get ugly, as the Yankees have to weigh paying Jeter, the 36-year-old shortstop, with paying Jeter, the face of the franchise. So how far apart are they? Not all that far, maybe.
In said report, Matthews explains that a source — and everything you read about this negotiation will come from an unnamed source, so take all of this for what it's worth — says that if the Yankees could sign Jeter for three years at $21 million a year, right now, they'd do it.
That won't necessarily be their opening offer: Joel Sherman reports that their opening offer will be something like three years for $45 million, a figure that could eventually climb toward $60 million. But a willingness, even if it's not one they'd express to Jeter and his agent right off the bat, to give Jeter the same $21 million he earned in 2010 until he's 39 would indicate that the Yankees are willing to compensate Jeter based on his value to the organization beyond what he does on the field — no matter what Randy Levine says. An eventual offer of $21 million a year, it probably goes without saying, would be awfully generous. We bet even Casey Close would agree.
Matthews's source, meanwhile, says that Jeter's camp wants at least a four-year deal, but would prefer five or six years. That Jeter might want six years has already been reported, and as a starting point in negotiations, if not as an actual demand, there's a logic to it: A-Rod, after all, got a deal until he's 42, as well. But if Jeter is willing to sign for as few as four years, then the gap here really isn't that big — especially since it's not hard to imagine the Yankees giving him that one additional year (regardless of whether they should, or even truly want to), perhaps as a trade-off for a slightly lower annual salary.