|Whatcha gonna do,|
sign with the Giants
In this case, the icon is Derek Jeter, officially a free agent. The Yankees have reportedly offered The Captain a three-year contract at $15 million a year. This would be about a 25 percent pay cut, and Jeter (through his agent) ain't buying:
Derek's significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees' negotiating strategy remains baffling.
Thus speaks Casey Close.
Jeter is indeed deeply entwined in what a marketer would call the Yankee brand (and baseball's brand in general; an image of Jeter in triumph is so ubiquitous in MLB promos that I suspect it's mandated by some obscure clause of the labor agreement). And the Yankees are deeply entwined in Jeter's brand. Think he'd be so prominent in ad campaigns if he played for Houston?
The problem in these increasingly testy negotiations is that Jeter is more valuable to the Yankees than he is to anybody else, because he's simply not the player he was even three years ago, and the Yankees know it. The Yankees also know that the second Steinbrenner generation established themselves as soft touches by caving in to Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada in previous talks, and they want to prove otherwise.
In the end, Jeter will have to accept the Yankees offer, because nobody else is going to offer as much. And if his pride is wounded by knowing that A.J. Burnett makes more per year, for a longer term ... well, that's Jeter's problem.