Steinbrenner chimes in on Jeter debate
Hank Steinbrenner has a message as the New York Yankees negotiate to re-sign Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
''As much as we want to keep everybody, we've already made these guys very, very rich, and I don't feel we owe anybody anything monetarily,'' the Yankees co-chairman said Tuesday. ''Some of these players are wealthier than their bosses.''
With negotiations moving slowly, the Yankees declined to offer salary arbitration to Jeter and Rivera before Tuesday's midnight deadline. New York also failed to offer arbitration to left-hander Andy Pettitte, reliever Kerry Wood and first baseman Lance Berkman but did make the offer to right-hander Javier Vazquez, unlikely to re-sign following a disappointing season.
By offering arbitration, New York would receive draft-pick compensation if Vazquez signs elsewhere. His agents have been negotiating with the Florida Marlins.
New York has made a $45 million, three-year offer to Jeter, a baseball executive with knowledge of the proposal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because it wasn't made public.
''We've encouraged him to test the market and see if there's something he would prefer other than this,'' general manager Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com, without confirming the figure. ''If he can, fine. That's the way it works.''
Jeter is coming off a $189 million, 10-year contract that was second only to Alex Rodriguez's deals of $252 million and $275 million, both over a decade.
''Negotiating is always a process,'' Steinbrenner said. ''I know he wants to stay. It's going to come down to what's fair for everybody considering all circumstances.''
Now 36, Jeter hit .270 with 10 homers, down from a .334 average and 18 homers the previous season. While his RBIs increased by one to 67, his on-base percentage fell from .406 to .340 and his slugging average dropped from .465 to .370.
An off year or the start of a career-ending tailoff? No way to tell.
But without the threat of negotiations involving other teams, there's little pressure for either side to make a deal quickly.
''Do we want to keep Derek? Of course we do, obviously,'' Steinbrenner said. ''Obviously we all want to keep Derek and we all want to keep Mo.''
Steinbrenner remains confident deals will be reached to keep the pair.
''I don't think in the end they will be unreasonable,'' he said.