Considering how often we've heard from the two sides over the past few weeks — either from Brian Cashman or Casey Close directly, or from any number of unnamed sources who allegedly know what's going on — it's a little hard to believe that Casey Close and Brian Cashman hadn't sat down in the same room and negotiated since November 8 — until they met again yesterday in Tampa.
The News's sources suggested it was Close who reached out to Cashman, which makes sense: The Yankees have a fair offer ($15 million a year for three years) on the table — an offer no team is likely to come close to matching — and it's Jeter's camp that will have to lower their demands (reportedly $23 million to $24 million a year over four to five years) to lessen the gap. (And not that the Giants were going to make Jeter a competitive offer, but they signed Miguel Tejada yesterday to serve as their primary shortstop.)
Yesterday's meeting doesn't mean that the Yankees and Jeter are close to a deal — by all accounts, they're not — but that they're talking is a step in the right direction. And in an interview with the AP last night, Hank Steinbrenner said both he and his brother are confident Jeter will remain a Yankee. So perhaps we're even past the public-negotiation phase of this process.
Last week, Jon Heyman tweeted that the Yankees wanted to "make inroads" with Jeter this week and possibly even have a deal by next week's winter meetings. That's not a hard deadline, obviously, but meetings like yesterday's should ultimately lead to those inroads. Though if the Yankees really do want a deal by next week, a glance at Brian Cashman's schedule for the upcoming days indicates that this could be the first negotiation in baseball history affected, even if only in terms of scheduling, by the general manager's rappelling down a 22-story building.