Pondering Derek Jeter's future with the Yankees

Al Bello

Going into 2014, the Yankees will have to consider a diminished role for their soon-to-be 40-year-old captain, Derek Jeter.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post released a pretty interesting article the other day. Or, at least it was interesting to me. In it, he wondered how Derek Jeter and the Yankees would play out 2014, the last year on the Captain's contract. It has been a long, successful road for Jeter in his career, but this past year has been very rocky for him. At age 39, 40 during next year, and coming off a significant number of leg injuries, one would have to figure that Jeter will have a diminished role next season.

Jeter has a $9.5 million player option that will certainly get exercised. Sherman suggests he could decline the option and try to negotiate for a higher salary or a multi-year deal, but he would be foolish to do so. At this point, $9.5MM for a 39, soon to be 40, year-old is the best deal he'll get, especially coming off four leg injuries in less than a 12 month span. Because of those injuries, Sherman suggests the Yankees could have Jeter be a part-time shortstop, DH, and even first baseman next season. Now, this isn't necessarily the Yankees' thought process as it is Sherman speculating, but it's something that should be considered.

All season long, when Jeter has tried to make it back onto the field at shortstop, he gets hurt again. Instead of continuing to run him out there at shortstop, and thus putting him in a spot to get hurt again, why not give him more DH at-bats and even play him at first to spell Mark Teixeira from time to time? There are a couple problems with this. One: He is Derek Jeter. Jeter has been the face of this franchise for ages, and that is mainly because everyone knows him as a shortstop and only a shortstop. (Hell, when Alex Rodriguez came on board, they moved him to third and not Jeter even though the former was a better defender.) Because of this, you can't move Jeter off of shortstop/significantly decrease his time at shortstop. It would just be too awkward. Two: the team does not have a competent shortstop in the organization to take the reins. Eduardo Nunez, Jayson Nix, and every other cheap shortstop that was brought in during the season have all predictably been terrible. They need the offensive production from Jeter at shortstop even if he's old and brittle.

There is a solution to the second problem, however. In that same article by Sherman, he suggests the Yankees could go after Jhonny Peralta. This would sound nice, theoretically, but the whole Biogenesis mess he was involved in could scare the team off. Who really knows, though. He admitted to using PEDs and accepted his suspension without there being any other extra baggage similar to what a certain third baseman in New York has is going through one he was suspended, thus it could be just all in the past and both parties could move on. If not, the Yankees could sign Stephen Drew away from the Red Sox. Boston will most likely have Xander Boegarts in the fold at shortstop by next season and they'd no longer need Drew's services. Drew would be a huge upgrade over Nunez/Nix/etc. even though he may be just an OK player and not a star.

Of course it may be a little premature to wonder what Derek Jeter's 2014 will look like, considering this season is not over yet, and, depending on who you ask, the Yankees still may or may not have a shot at the playoffs. However, eventually this will become a large topic as we head into next season and will be something that the team will have to address sooner or later.

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