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September 7, 2010

Between The Numbers

Jeter Contract Crowdsourcing Results

by Ben Lindbergh

At the end of last week’s article about the issues surrounding Derek Jeter’s upcoming free agency, I polled our readers, trusting that the wisdom of crowds would get us closer to an accurate assessment of the shortstop’s approaching payday than any single analyst could. Over a thousand of you have weighed in, so this seems like as good a time as any to reveal and discuss your estimates. Here the numerical results:

Average length: 3.35 years

Average AAV: $16.20 million

Median Length: 3 years

Median AAV: $15.5 million

Standard deviation, years: .93

Standard deviation, dollars: $4.28 million

And here’s a graphical look at your responses, which—in the AAV department, at least—seem to have favored multiples of five:

According to the BP readers who responded, Jeter should expect a pay cut after raking in $21 million this season, but the expected salary decline would still leave him one of baseball’s best-compensated players over the next few years. It’s difficult to imagine that Jeter’s on-field performance alone would be worth $16 million during his age-39 season, so most of you must have found Vince Gennaro’s estimates of Jeter’s marquee value convincing, or assumed that the Yankees would be willing take a loss in order to keep their Captain in pinstripes until he retires.

Jeter enjoyed a slight home field advantage when it came to the expected terms of his contract:

Yankees Fan?

% of Respondents

Average AAV

Average Length

Yes

27.2

16.95

3.47

No

72.8

15.92

3.30

Yankees fans awarded Jeter roughly an extra million dollars per season, though we can’t say what factors influenced their collective decision. Perhaps the warm, fuzzy feelings generated during Jeter's first 16 seasons in pinstripes clouded their thinking, but it’s also possible that their familiarity with the team accorded them a more accurate appraisal of Jeter’s on-field future, as well as a better sense of what the Yankees might be willing to offer and what the shortstop might be willing to accept.

Regardless of team allegiance, respondents were clearly conflicted about Jeter’s financial prospects. Although Jeter’s mean expected annual salary was almost identical to the figure that FanGraphs readers projected for Carl Crawford, the standard deviation was significantly higher in Jeter’s case, suggesting much less agreement among those who submitted estimates. Given the uncertainty surrounding Jeter’s on-field future in light of the career-worst offensive showing with which he’s followed his MVP-caliber 2009 campaign, as well as the degree to which his worth hinges on his marquee value (which is relatively difficult to quantify), that sort of variance makes sense. The poll results do suggest a consensus about the length of Jeter’s next contract, with the vast majority of respondents foreseeing a pact in the range of 3-4 years, which would echo the Yankees’ recent commitments to Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

Based on these numbers, it seems that most of you view Jeter as a more valuable commodity than a generic two-win shortstop hitting the open market on the wrong side of 35, and there’s plenty of evidence to support that position. However, there is a level of play at which the combination of Jeter’s on-field production and off-field marquee value would no longer merit a roster spot. If Jeter remains a Yankee at an annual rate of $16 million or more, and his performance descends below that level before his contract runs its course, his Yankeeography could yet have an ugly ending. With just a shade under $95 million already allotted to Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, and Curtis Granderson in 2013 (not to mention the arbitration raises scheduled for other players currently under contract), an eight-figure commitment to a 39-year-old Jeter might represent the tip of an iceberg lying in wait for the Captain's aging crew.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

10 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

devine

Thanks, Ben. That was a fun project to contribute to and to see the results of.

I'm beginning to suspect that Jeter's next contract will be notably "non-standard" - that is, it will have some feature to it that we do not see often. I think about Wakefield's unusual contract, and where I do not think Jeter would be likely to sign a deal that leaves that much money on the table, something like a perpetual mutual-option clause after a two- or three-year deal could happen.

I do not doubt for a second that Jeter has the first part or two of his post-baseball career plotted out, and that he and Casey Close have figured out someway to leverage this contract to help launch that next gig.

Sep 07, 2010 10:44 AM
rating: 1
 
Rowen Bell

His next gig? Maybe Jeter could be player/manager for the Yankees' AAA team starting in 2011, with a clause obligating the Yankees to call him up to the majors after the AAA season ends?

Tongue slightly in cheek there -- but that would be a much better use for what remains of his talents than paying him $15 million per year to clog up the Yankees' lineup.

Then again, speaking as a Blue Jays fan -- go ahead, New York, pay him as much money as he wants.

Sep 07, 2010 10:47 AM
rating: 0
 
ScottyB

As a Yankee fan who gave a relatively high contract amount- it is because I've seen the Yanks eat huge money in dead contract weight (Pavano, etc.) in the recent past, and see little that would indicate they'd play hardball with Jeter's upcoming contract.

Sep 07, 2010 11:01 AM
rating: 1
 
Matt Kory

Thanks, Ben, for putting this together. Its very interesting.

In a similar vein, I'd love to see the wisdom of the crowds answer how much in terms of money and years it would take for Jeter to leave the Yankees?

Sep 07, 2010 11:19 AM
rating: 1
 
Lespaul1

Agree w/ ScottyB - I put a big number in there not because I believe this is his true value, but because I see the Yankees overpaying in a similar fashion to the Posada/Rivera contracts. I also think that Jeter's ego will play a role - I cannot see him taking what is perceived as a "low" yearly salary.

Sep 07, 2010 13:53 PM
rating: 0
 
jlebeck66

This statement may cause a lot of responses by itself: "Based on these numbers, it seems that most of you view Jeter as a more valuable commodity than a generic two-win shortstop hitting the open market on the wrong side of 35, and there’s plenty of evidence to support that position."

Add me to the list of people putting a high value not based on what I think he's worth, but what I think he'll get. Should he make much more than Tejada or Scutaro? Not by much. Will he? Heck yes!

Sep 07, 2010 14:58 PM
rating: 0
 
ScottyB

The #1 reason Jeter will get PAYYYYYED- He is still the guy on the poster on the wall of every 8-year old Yankee fan.

Sep 07, 2010 18:45 PM
rating: -1
 
Rob_in_CT

Obviously he's going to be overpaid. Given his history with the team, his pride, the Yankees ability to pay and - this is important - the lack of a viable replacement...

My hope is they go short on years, long on dollars. The Yankees have the ability to have a few ugly contracts on their books. Using up a spot on the 25-man roster for a player who is done (he's not done yet - in fact I think he'll rebound some next season - but in 3 years?) is another matter.

Sep 08, 2010 05:56 AM
rating: 0
 
Rowen Bell

You don't think ARod could play SS in Jeter's absence?

Sep 08, 2010 10:16 AM
rating: 0
 
dianagram

have you noticed A-Rod's decreased range this year, and his bad hip?

Sep 08, 2010 11:28 AM
rating: 0
 
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