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Yankee fans should root for Jeter to decline his option

If you want the best team $200M can buy, it doesn't include the Captain.

It was all smiles three years ago.
It was all smiles three years ago.
Tim Boyles

Edit, 1:29pm: I wrote this post last night and scheduled it for 1:00 pm. To mock me, the Baseball Gods decided that Jeter and the Yankees would announce a new one year deal for more money than the original option.

While I am happy to know Jeter will be in pinstripes, I don't understand how the team can throw its ability to negotiate with the Captain about his position in the lineup and in the field. I'm being patient for more details of the negotiation to come out, because otherwise, this move makes no sense.

During the 2010 offseason, Brian Cashman went toe-to-toe with one of the biggest stars in MLB, a living Yankee legend, the team's Captain. Cashman dared Jeter to find a better bid than the Yankees' three-year, $51 million offer.

Jeter accepted, and his performance in 2011 and 2012 launched a few escalators that raised the value of his player option for 2014. But 2013 happened in between, and Derek Jeter now has to answer questions about his ability for the first time in a long time.

Let me walk you through a few basic assumptions:

  • I root for the Yankees. I cheered for them before there was a Derek Jeter, and I will after.
  • I adore Jeter. He has been the perfect Yankee for this era of the team's history. I did not get teary during any of the Rivera farewells, but I will likely weep for my Captain.
  • While Jeter might not have the ankle to play shortstop, he also doesn't have the bat to play DH. Right field might be an option, but at the moment, I'd rather re-sign Curtis Granderson for that role.
  • If the Yankees are serious about their budget, Jeter will make $9.5 million that could be used for younger, possibly better players.
  • Nobody really cares that Yogi played for the Mets, or that Reggie Jackson was an Oriole, or that Mickey Mantle was suspended from baseball. Barring a championship run into the twilight, what would a season or two as a Brewer or a Tiger really mean?

So, if you're with me through that, then ask yourself, shouldn't you be rooting for Cashman to play hardball again? Casually mention to the media that, yes, we're thinking about moving Jeter off short, and if he comes back he'll have to prove he's the team's best shortstop during spring training. Tell Jeter to spend a part of his offseason shagging fly balls and charging bunts, in case his best use is in the outfield or at one of the infield corners.

Just like rooting for Alex Rodriguez to be suspended for the season, if you think this would be best for the team (and if you think Jeter at 40 would be a two win player or less, then you think he's a net loss) then you have to secretly hope he declines his option.

If I'm Cashman, I let Jeter mull on what he wants most: to be a career Yankee or to be a shortstop; to be a starter or to be part of a winning team. Because he might not be able to have all of those things.

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