Yankees Playing the Waiting Game

Three free agents-to-be and no new contracts

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Feb 9, 2010  |  Updated 1:01 PM EDT
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Yankees Playing the Waiting Game

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Don't expect to hear any announcements about new contracts for Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Joe Girardi once the Yankees report to work in Tampa next week. Brian Cashman told the New York Post that none of the three, all entering the final year of their contract, will get a new deal before the end of the season.

It would be easy to look at that statement and ask why the Yankees are being so callous toward three men who played major roles in the 27th championship run and, especially, two men who are among the greatest players in the history of the franchise. A better question would be why wouldn't they handle things this way? 

There are certain advantages to being the Yankees and one of those advantages is the knowledge that there's certain financial decisions you can make that are out of the reach of other teams. Jeter and Rivera are worth more to the Yankees than they would worth to other teams, both on the field and off of it. As good as both players still are, they are older and will only sign for sums that most teams balk at paying free agents that are in their primes.

The Yankees, on the other hand, will pay them above market value and they'll give them longer term contracts than the competition. That doesn't mean they need to hurry to do it, if only because life is a funny thing and you never know what might happen over the next nine months. Players can get hurt, cars can jump curbs and players in their mid-late 30's can decline, so there's little reason to tempt fate by locking yourself into a deal before you know what you're buying.

That's a risk and there is probably some infinitesimal risk that one or both players could go and sign somewhere else, but that's where the money comes into play. The Yankees aren't going to lose either one of these players unless they are dead set on leaving the Bronx, a notion that is impossible to wrap your head around. Maybe that's arrogant, but it's arrogance that the Yankees have come to honestly and for good reason.

Girardi is a slightly different case. Cashman intimated that he didn't want to sign one of the three and then deal with questions about why he didn't sign the others, but people don't look at managers and players the same way. Girardi did what he was hired to do last season and barring a complete meltdown, it's impossible to see how he isn't going to get an extension after this season. This being the Yankees, though, Girardi would be no more or less at risk of getting fired if he had a contract that ran through 2012 so he doesn't exactly share the lame-duck status of Jerry Manuel across town.

The lack of contracts may make for a good story on slow days during the summer to come, but they shouldn't scare anyone more than a boxful of puppies.

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.

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