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The Value of Derek Jeter

By: Justin Diaz

How much money is a 36-year-old shortstop hitting .264 worth?

The answer is quite simple under normal circumstances, not a whole lot. However, when that shortstop happens to be Derek Jeter, the circumstances are far from normal.

The Yankees do not negotiate extensions with any player still under contract.
This past offseason, with Jeter heading into the final year of his 10-year, $189 million deal, they
did not budge from that policy.

Coming off one of the best seasons of his career in 2009, contract negotiations weren’t expected to be difficult. A ten-time all star, career .314 hitter, team captain; couldn’t be too complicated to figure out how much to pay the guy, right?

After a hot start to the season, Jeter has in fact made things complicated with the way he’s been playing. Since June 1st, he is hitting .239, with a .320 on-base percentage and a .336 slugging percentage.

The numbers are shocking to look at, as Jeter has been one of the most consistent players in the league throughout his entire career.

Before this season, Jeter’s lowest average in a season was .291 and his lowest OPS was .771. His average for the season is .264 with a .702 OPS, a significant drop-off in production that is certainly cause for concern.

Is it fair to say that he is officially done and will never bounce back? No, 14 all-star caliber seasons gives him some benefit of the doubt. However, it is also far from certain that Jeter will have a bounce back year and return to his old form.

Which brings us to that same question, how much is Derek Jeter worth?

I’ve heard many fans say that the Yankees “have” to pay him more than market value because he’s accomplished so much with the organization. My question to those people is, so what?

There is no denying how much Jeter has meant to the Yankees throughout his career. He has been a great player on the field and a true class act off of it. As a Yankee fan, I truly appreciate all that he has done for the organization.

However, one thing many fans seemingly fail to recognize, it is his job to perform on the field. He gets paid to play baseball just like any other person gets paid to do their job. The only difference between Jeter and the average Joe is that over a 10-year period, his average salary was $18.9 million per year. As likeable as Jeter is, he has not been playing for the Yankees out of the kindness in his heart. Which brings me to my next point.

Everybody seems to love to mention all that Jeter has done for the Yankees, what about all that the Yankees have done for Jeter? They gave him a 10-year deal worth $189 million, making him the second highest paid athlete ever. As great as Jeter was at the time, would another team have come anywhere near that offer? That is a question that nobody can be sure about, but keep in mind that the big money in baseball normally goes to power hitters and starting pitchers, and Jeter doesn’t fit either of those categories.

I am not saying that Jeter did not live up to his contract, but the idea that the Yankees owe it to him to pay him more than market value is ludicrous.

Think of it this way; lets say John Doe is a top salesman for Company X for a long period of time. He has been a great employee throughout his entire career until the final year of his contract, when his sales numbers drop well below the performance of the company’s other salesmen. Would Company X overpay John Doe, despite the poor performance, because he’s been good to them in the past?

Many people will laugh at the comparison, but the Yankees are just like every other business in America in one aspect; their number one goal is making money. Of course, that goal is best attained through winning.

Nobody knows what the Yankees budget is, but despite what some people may believe, it does exist. There are going to be some holes to fill next season, most importantly the two open spots in the starting rotation (if Andy Pettitte retires). No matter who they sign, especially if it’s Cliff Lee (and it’s no secret they want him), those two pitchers will be very expensive. The Yankees cannot afford to drastically overpay Jeter and jeopardize their chances at signing Lee or any other free agent they choose to pursue in the upcoming offseason.

Which brings us to the answer to the question, how much money is Derek Jeter worth? The answer is quite simple; he is worth what the market dictates. If I had to guess, that would probably mean something like a 3-year deal somewhere in the $35-40 million range.

If the Yankees truly believe he is worth more than that, so be it. Just don’t say the Yankees owe Jeter more than he deserves. Baseball is, after all, a business.


  1. Diaz, you kiddin me! Its Derek fucking Jeter. Give him a decent salary you can afford it your the mother effin yankees.

  2. Fantastic article. The numbers sound about right, although to be honest I'm not so sure he deserves 3 years guaranteed. Of course, as you mentioned, it will depend on what teams in the market will offer.... we shall see.

  3. Great article. I worry about the Mets. After 4 straight years of no playoffs (2 collapses and 2 awful seasons) they may need to spice things up to get some excitement from the fan-base. Bringing Joe Torre in and Derek Jeter with him would be just the kind of slap to the face to the Yankees to get the fan-base excited. The Mets tried this before with Posada and it resulted in the Yankees having to sign a 36 year old catcher to a 4 year deal. I hope this doesn't happen again with Jeter

  4. I agree with Bah. As a Mets fan (which is up for debate after this year), the franchise is in dire need of a spark to draw more fans and who better than Derek Jeter. I don't agree with it at all though, I don't want him because he is depreciating faster than a car being driven out of the dealership. Lets go get Mo Vaughn and give him another shot while we're at it.

  5. As a DereK Jeter fan, as well as a Yankee fan i couldn't agree more with your article, but you said it yourself, its business, and the fact of the matter is the Yankees need Jeter as much as he needs them. Next he will undoubtedtly surpass the glorified 3,000 hit mark (the first Yankee to do so) and the New York fans and media will eat it up like hot cakes. Bottom line he brings fans and lost of revenue to the stadium and if they pay him 35-40 million it'll be well worth it.

  6. I agree with this article 100%, Jeter has been over paid for years, he has been good for the yankees, but the yankees have been much better to him. It is unheard of paying a 267 hitter with 10 homeruns and hitting into more doubleplays then anyone on the team leading off. He ends more ralleys then he begins. T.B

  7. When you think of YANKEE PRIDE, and LEGEND Derek Jeter is simply that,,,what price do you put on pure adherance to the Pride of the Yankees? It is a business yes, but it is also the New York Yankees,,,There are only a few names that when spoken are the PINSTRIPES, The Babe,,,a former Red Sox,,,Gerhig, Joe D, The Mick and Jete,,,what is he worth, about 1.5 millions annually at home at the average expenditure or $250.00 per... Pay him, Play him, regard him as The Modern Day YANKEE,,,sometimes it is not just about money. Besides who fits better currently or in the minors???

  8. You pretty much hit it dead on as to what the Yankees are offering. 3 years 45 million... I'm not sure why Jeter hasn't already signed on the dotted line... no where else will he be offered 45 million over three years to play for a winning team.. there's also priceless reasons as to why he should stay... and remain a yankee and retire as one.