Derek Jeter is Mr. Yankee. The organization has even referred to him as the modern day Babe Ruth. Fans love him, women want to be with him, men want to be like him and, more importantly than all of that, he’s led his team to World Series championships.
What could possibly ruin such a marvelous relationship? Turns out it’s time for him to sign a new contract because he’s not quite ready to retire. Who can blame him? His numbers were the worst of his career but he’s still better than many at his position and he’s a colossal draw.
The Yankees have made him a rich man beyond his wildest dreams and he’s added value to one of the most popular organizations in all of sports. The Yankees have offered him 3 additional years at $15 million per year. Jeter’s agent, Casey Close, reportedly wants $23 million a year for 4 or 5 years. Apparently, the talks have become so contentious that the Yanks told Jeter and Close to test the open market.
Would Derek Jeter really consider finishing his career in a uniform other than the pinstripes? Most people think not. They believe that if ever someone was destined to play for one team throughout his career, that person is Derek Jeter. I can still remember when Jackie Robinson quit rather than put on a uniform other than the Dodgers (especially that of the hated Giants).
It’s hard to believe to think that Jeter feels like he actually needs more than $15 million a year to live on, so could it be pride, the pride of the Yankee? Conversely, it’s not like the Yankees can’t afford to fork out the kind of money the Jeter camp is demanding. In my mind, the reason behind Derek Jeter vs. New York Yankees story has to do with the way sports are managed today.
His agent is the one who’s making this situation into the mess it’s become. Casey Close probably makes 3-4% of Jeter’s contract. The difference between $15 million and $23 million is, as incredible as it sounds, insignificant to Jeter. Unless he’s a complete fool - and while there may be professional athletes who are sure fire bets for the Fools Hall of Fame, Derek Jeter is nowhere to be found in that category - he has more than enough money socked away that neither he, nor anyone he deeply cares about, will ever be in any type of financial bind. And don’t think for a minute that the Yankees are hurting for dough either.
Casey Close has quite a few big money clients but . . . 3% (using the low end) of $45 million is $1.35 million, while 3% of $92 million (only 4 years at $23 mil per) is $2.76 million, or a difference of $1.41 million. That is a significant number for a guy whose talent is
squeezing negotiating teams on behalf of his clients and whose reason for being isn’t that of those he represents, e.g. World Series championships, Gold Gloves or MVP awards but, rather, the accumulation of money. And power. But the power comes from the money. There’s the rumor of Close leaving Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to start up his own conglomerate. It’s all about ego - which comes from the number of powerful clients - which means the guys who command . . . the most money).
Close is a brilliant guy who knows a strong hand when he’s holding one. He’s made the statement that Derek Jeter’s value to the New York Yankees cannot be overstated. Wise move. To many, Jeter is the all-American boy and the Yankees, even to their fans, are the big bad bully. Close is also smart enough to make sure Alex Rodriguez’s salary is brought into play. But if A-Rod retried, or said he’d take less money (both of which are extremely doubtful), does anyone think for a (New York) minute that Close would back off his asking price?
Substituting “agent” for “umpire” in Christy Mathewson’s quote is right on the money as far as sports are viewed today:
“Many baseball fans look upon an agent as a sort of necessary evil to the luxury of baseball, like the odor that follows an automobile.”