Derek Jeter may be just 80 percent of his former self, and he may not be getting $100 million contracts anymore, but he’s still getting a hefty check. And he’s guaranteed to be a Yankees starter for at least one more season.
Despite not being able to keep their captain on the field, the Yankees further squashed any premature retirement rumors by signing the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer to a 1-year, $12 million deal for 2014.
In all fairness, Jeter’s skills haven't deteriorated much in two decades of grueling MLB service. He led the MLB with 216 hits in 2012. But his body has betrayed him ever since he suffered that freak, season-ending ankle injury in Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS against Detroit. He tried to come back too early, suffered a setback in spring training, didn’t play until July 11th and couldn’t even make it past his first game without straining a right quad. The iron man shortstop was on the DL four times, wound up playing in just 17 games and hitting .190/.288/.254 with one homer in 73 plate appearances.
Such measly production starkly contrasts Jeter’s track record. The 13-time all-star averaged 151 games a year from 1996 to 2012 and had one DL stint over those last nine seasons.
It seems both sides agreed to try and make Jeter’s eventual retirement an amicable one. If Jeter can stay healthy and continues to flex a solid bat, then the Yankees can evaluate him after the season, and decide how they want to play it. If Jeter gets busy, they may decide to reward him with another two or three-year deal (less than $10 million per). If his frame is shot, they’ll probably know well before the season ends and can give him a festive, stadium-to-stadium sendoff.