The situation between the Yankees and free agent shortstop Derek Jeter is approaching the initial offer stage, but team president Randy Levine had some interesting words to say on the matter. Most notably, Levine said that Jeter "is allowed to test the market," and that this is "a different negotiation than 10 years ago" - when Jeter and the Yankees worked out their last contract together.
There is, of course, little market for Jeter to test, as teams figure he's going to re-sign with New York and are focusing elsewhere. However, Levine's statement sends a message that the Yankees are prepared to play hardball, and view this strictly as a baseball move. While they're certainly aware of everything that Jeter means to the team and the city, he's also a 36 year old coming off the worst season of his career, and that information isn't lost on the front office. Brian Cashman and company understand that Jeter may be on his last legs.
Joel Sherman reports that the Yankees plan to make their first contract offer very soon - possibly by the end of the week. The offer is expected to be for three years and about $45-50 million, but it won't be accepted, as Jeter wants at least four years. This is simply a necessary first step to drive the talks forward.