Checking in on Derek Jeter's Next Contract

Jeter's expiring contract remains a discussion point

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Unless Derek Jeter doesn't make another out until the calendar turns to June, May 2010 isn't going to go down as one of the great months of his career.

    Jeter is just 22-for-98 this month with no homers and nine RBIs, numbers that have coincided with a downturn in the team's play and the absence of several other players from the regular starting lineup. That magnifies the slump, leading to questions about how Jeter's age is affecting his play. Those questions are, naturally, followed in short order by ruminations about how that will affect the contract offer he gets from the Yankees when his deal expires following this season. 

    Buster Olney of ESPN is the guy ruminating at the moment. He starts by discussing the diminished numbers of Alex Rodriguez and then turns to Jeter's substandard production and impending free agency. 

    "Jeter's 10-year contract is set to expire at the end of this year, and a significant diminishment of production will ultimately be read as the inevitable manifestation of time, and could have a great impact on the offer he gets from the Yankees," Olney writes. "Right now, his OPS is 128 points lower than his career average, and if that stands, it's hard to imagine the Yankees offering him a four- or five-year deal at one of the highest salaries in the majors." 

    All due respect to Olney, but it isn't hard to imagine them doing that at all. If Jeter were any other player, except for Mariano Rivera, there would probably be a serious recalculation at the end of the season if he winds up with the same numbers that he has right now. Jeter, as guys like Olney are fond of reminding us, isn't just like any other player, though, and his value to the Yankees extends beyond the diamond.

    The question of Jeter's contract remains mostly of interest to the media. You'd be hard pressed to find many Yankee fans who think that signing Jeter for any amount of money would be a bad idea. Even the ones who accept that he'll be on the wrong side of his career for the entire deal are okay with Jeter getting paid more for what he represents than for what he is. In the minds of all those fans, paying Jeter $21 million this season doesn't stop them from dropping another $200 million on the rest of the team so it shouldn't be any different in 2013.

    Before closing, let's return to a discussion of on-field matters since that's what actually matters to those of us who neither write nor receive checks with the Yankee logo on them. Jeter's OPS is 716 for the season. It was 875 in April. He will likely finish somewhere between those two figures and if you had to bet it would be that he'll be closer to the April number when all is said and done. Concerns about his age won't go away because of that. The same can't be said of people questioning the wisdom of a new deal.

    That makes this discussion a pretty moot one on all fronts.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.