The New York Yankees held the "negotiating hammer" the last time they opened contract talks with Derek Jeter, but this time the veteran shortstop may be the one wielding Mjölnir if he decides to pass on his $9.5 player option for 2014, speculates Buster Olney of ESPN.
Jeter, 39, has played all of five games for the Yankees this season because of a series of leg injuries, so his bringing any sort of leverage into contract talks if he accepts his $3 million buyout seems counter-intuitive.
Olney believes, however, that a whole host of factors would play into the negotiations and ultimately give Jeter some serious sway in discussing a new deal. To wit: if the club misses the playoffs, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte retire, Robinson Cano leaves in free agency, and Alex Rodriguez is able to get his suspension reduced, the Yankees are going to have to do something to appease concerns. The way to do that would probably not involve letting the face of the franchise walk away to another club.
Jeter has given no indication either way about what he plans to do about his option next season, but he has said in the past that he does not want to leave the Yankees. The 13-time all-star is closing in on 40 pretty quickly, so it's unclear how long of a deal he'd expect from Steinbrenner and company if he were to open new talks.
There is still no timetable for Jeter's return this year. He's been out since Aug. 3 with a strained right calf.