Jeter about to get richest MLB contract
NEW YORK - Derek Jeter is on the verge of becoming baseball's richest man.
After helping lead the New York Yankees to three World Series titles in four years, the All-Star shortstop was near agreement on a record contract worth about $118 million for seven years, The Associated Press learned yesterday.
Jeter submitted a $10.5 million figure for 2000 in salary arbitration yesterday, a record amount for a player, and the Yankees put in $9.5 million, the most ever offered by a team. But neither side expects the matter to go to a hearing.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Jeter's agent, Casey Close, declined comment. But a pair of sources familiar with the negotiations, speaking on the condition they not be identified, said a seven-year deal to keep him in pinstripes was nearing completion.
"Eventually, I'll get a long-term deal," Jeter said yesterday at the Yankees' training complex in Tampa, Fla. "Hopefully, it will be sooner than later. It's out of my hands. We'll see what happens. It's just a matter of time, I think."
The deal and the average salary would shatter the records set by pitcher Kevin Brown on Dec. 12, 1998, when he agreed to a $105 million, seven-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a deal that averages $15 million.
One of the sources said Jeter's contract probably would wind up being worth $118.5 million, which would make its average $16,928,571.
In addition, Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte was close to agreeing to a $25.5 million, three-year contract, one source said. After swapping arbitration numbers with the team, catcher Jorge Posada agreed to a $1.25 million, one-year deal.
At 25, Jeter already has won three World Series championship rings.
Jeter batted .349 and set career highs in home runs (24), RBI (102) and hits (219) last season. He safely reached base in the Yankees' first 53 games, the team's longest such streak since the expansion era of 1961.
Jeter ranks fifth on the Yankees' career list with a .318 average. He has led the team in hits for four straight years and has scored at least 100 runs in each of those seasons.
He beat the Yankees in arbitration last winter, getting a $5 million salary instead of the team's $3.2 million offer. He wasn't worried about the prospect of another hearing this winter.
"You look at it, you're in a win-win situation," Jeter said. "Even if you lose the arbitration case, you're making a lot of money ... you're making a lot more money than you did the previous year. I really don't focus on it too much."
The deal, according to one of the sources, won't be finalized until Yankees owner George Steinbrenner meets with Jeter and until the shortstop takes a physical for insurance purposes.
It probably will be completed sometime in the next 10 days, the sources said.
New York has been burned in the recent past by delaying agreements with its star players. Bernie Williams got an $87.5 million, seven-year contract from the Yankees after the 1998 season, more than $30 million higher than he would have agreed to a year earlier.
Jeter would have been eligible for free agency after the 2001 season, and the Yankees knew that if they waited, the price would have been affected by Alex Rodriguez's next contract.
Rodriguez, the Seattle Mariners' star shortstop, is eligible for free agency after this season, and some have speculated his next contract could average $20 million a year or more.