We all knew contract negotiations between the New York Yankees and legendary shortstop Derek Jeter were tumultuous in 2010, but a new report by Sports Illustrated has shed new light on the hard ball that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was playing.
According to SI’s S.L. Price, Cashman was very blunt with Jeter when the 36-year-old asked him who he would rather have as his starting shortstop during a face-to-face meeting over his next contract.
“Do you really want me to answer that?” Cashman replied, adding that he preferred Colorado Rockies All-Star Troy Tulowitzki when prompted by Jeter to actually answer the question.
“We’re not paying extra money for popularity,” he continued, “We’re paying for performance.”
Jeter, of course, went on to sign a three-year, $51 million contract with New York, but the report notes that the relationship between the two has never been the same.
While Cashman has come under fire this week for these comments, he shouldn’t be receiving so much flak. As great of a Yankee as Jeter was, at 36, a 25-year-old rising star in Tulowitzki was clearly the better option for New York’s future. While hindsight tells us that the current Toronto Blue Jay would have been just as big of a gamble considering the number of games he’s missed to injuries since 2010, there was nothing wrong with what Cashman said to Jeter.
While everyone in New York is relieved that Jeter was able to finish his career on his own terms, riding off into the sunset after collecting his 3,000th hit and playing twenty memory-filled MLB seasons, Cashman’s comments remind us that business always comes before relationships in professional sports.
Jeter defied expectations in 2012 by playing 159 games and batting .316, but Cashman was right in approaching the situation with the idea that he would be getting end-of-the-career type of production from him during the contract. Sure, Jeter would lead the Yankees to wins, put thousands of fans in the seats and in front of televisions, but Cashman would have been lying if he said there wasn’t a single player he would prefer at shortstop.
While some will say that he could have expressed this to the Yankee captain in a more respectful and kind manner, contract negotiations are supposed to be messy. If you’re willing to play the game and ask for the big bucks, you have to be ready to take some bumps and bruises to your ego — especially when you’re the aging face of the franchise.