Irked Jeter Speaks His Mind At Press Conference
TAMPA, Fla. (WFAN/AP) — Derek Jeter can admit it now: He was definitely getting steamed at the New York Yankees.
While Jeter tried to keep talks quiet as the sides negotiated, the Yankees went public with suggestions his increasing age and decreased numbers should result in a pay cut.
At one point, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the 36-year-old shortstop should explore other options if he was dissatisfied with New York’s offer.
“I was pretty angry about it, and I let that be known,” Jeter said Tuesday after finalizing a $51 million, three-year contract that cut his salary. “I was angry about it because I was the one that said I didn’t want to do it. I said I was the one that wasn’t going to do it.”
At a news conference at the team’s spring training home to announce the agreement, Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and Cashman maintained there will be no lingering fallout. Manager Joe Girardi and Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal sat alongside Jeter, while Hank Steinbrenner was in the back and Jeter’s dad in the audience along with Jeter’s agent, Casey Close.
“A big happy family,” Jeter said. “You move past it. It’s over with, and I won’t bring it up again. I’m happy because this is where I want to be.”
Following a Nov. 8 meeting, talks came to a standstill as the sides expressed frustration with each other. Wanting negotiations to remain private, Jeter was dismayed when Cashman suggested he explore the market.
“To hear the organization telling me to go shopping and I just told you I wasn’t going to, oh yeah, if I’m going to be honest with you, I was angry about it,” Jeter said.
And the public comments from team officials rankled Jeter.
“The thing that probably bothered me the most was how public this became,” he said. “The negotiations were suppose to be private. It was an uncomfortable position I felt that I was in. It was not an enjoyable experience because throughout the years I’ve prided myself on keeping things out of the media and this turned into a big public thing.
“That was something I was not happy about and let my feelings be known. I never wanted to be a free agent. It was the situation I was in. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t angry,” he said.
He maintained even before the start of negotiations that he wouldn’t discuss playing for other teams.
“At the end of the season I said that in private meetings I had with the Yankee organization. I had never planned on going anywhere,” Jeter said. “I didn’t want to talk to any other teams. I didn’t want to hear from other teams. I told Casey that. This was a situation where this is the only team I ever want to play for, contrary to some other reports.”
Cashman pointed out Jeter’s performance. He hit .270 with 10 homers this year, down from a .334 average and 18 homers the previous season. While his RBIs increased by one to 67, his on-base percentage fell from .406 to .340 and his slugging average dropped from .465 to .370.
“You’d like to think that last year was a hiccup, I guess,” Jeter said. “But it’s my job to go out there and prove that it was.”
Talks finally resumed Nov. 30 after Close, called Hal Steinbrenner and the sides met in Tampa.
“I think it helped a lot,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “No. 1, we got to air our frustrations about how big the media part of it had become. We just talked. It all turned out for the best. I think it was absolutely imperative, I think, at that point that we sit down face to face and kind of not leave the room until we get closer, closer and closer.”
The sides negotiated over the rest of the week, including another face-to-face session in the New York area Saturday, until they reached the agreement.
“Ultimately, the atmosphere was always, this is the guy that we wanted to run out at shortstop going forward. This is the place he always wanted to be,” Cashman said. “So regardless of how you get there, emotions didn’t impact the ultimate outcome.”
Jeter also was unhappy about the public reflection of what was happening in the negotiations, how the perception was different from the reality.
“People were assuming what was going on,” he said. “People said I was demanding. They said I had an ego. That I was greedy. It just wasn’t true.”
From afar, most everyone in baseball had figured Jeter and the Yankees would make a deal.
“Both parties I think wanted to do the same thing,” former Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “Knowing how he feels about the Yankees, I’m just glad it worked out.”
While completing Jeter’s deal, New York also has been working to finalize a $30 million, two-year agreement with closer Mariano Rivera.
“I’m very, very pleased about Mo and Derek,” Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said. “They are certainly legends. They’re in a class by themselves as far as Yankee history. They’re right up there with the greats … Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio.”
After averaging $18.9 million as part of a 10-year contract, Jeter gets salaries of $15 million next year, $16 million in 2012 and $17 million in 2013, with $2 million annually deferred and payable on each March 15 over three years starting in 2015.
Jeter holds an $8 million player option for 2014 with a $3 million buyout that could make the agreement worth $56 million over four years. With an escalator, his 2014 salary could rise to $17 million and increase the contract’s value to $65 million.
Jeter wouldn’t say if this will be his final contract. There were no discussions during contract talks about the possibility of moving Jeter to a new position.
“I want to play as long as I’m having fun, and I’m having fun now,” Jeter said. “If I’m not enjoying myself, then I won’t be playing.”
Now the Yankees move on to talks with Cliff Lee. Both Jeter and the team are relieved negotiations are behind them.
“We worked through it,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “It was a difficult three, four weeks, but again it’s done and everybody is ready to move on. We always maintained the respect and here we are.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
- Sources: Yankees, Jeter Reach Contract Agreement (newyork.cbslocal.com)