- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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NEW YORK -- In an effort to make contract negotiations go as smoothly as possible, Yankees co-owner Hal Steinbrenner joined team president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman for the initial face-to-face meeting with Derek Jeter in Tampa. Jeter's agent, Casey Close, who was also present, confirmed the meeting took place.
Close would offer no further details, but it is clear both sides want to limit the possibility that the negotiations could get "messy," which Steinbrenner warned about during an appearance on 1050 ESPN New York's Michael Kay Show last week.
An industry source with knowledge of the negotiations said that "it was a strictly informal meeting, no money, no offers or demands made. The Yankees had a lot of questions for Jeter and Jeter had a lot of questions for the Yankees. It was a good, open meeting to start the process moving forward. Both sides seem to understand the realities here. Everybody agrees it is going to get done. Now they all have to find a place that everyone can be happy with."
No further meetings have been scheduled, according to the source, and it is unlikely the deal will get done next week because of the GM meetings in Orlando. Shortly after Thanksgiving is more likely.
Sources have told ESPNNewYork's Wallace Matthews that the Yankees plan on giving Jeter a contract above market value. At 36, Jeter doesn't have a lot of teams -- if any -- that would come close to what the Yankees will put forth. The Yankees will probably look to pay Jeter in the $15-21 million per season range for three years.
Both sides realize the importance Jeter has to the Yankee brand and the Yankee brand's importance to Jeter long term.
On Monday, Cashman told Jeter's good buddy, Jorge Posada, that the Yankees plan to let top prospect Jesus Montero compete for the catching position. Posada will likely be the main DH for the Yankees next season.
The Yankees have no plans to move Jeter from shortstop, but they do want him to play less than the 157 games he appeared in last season. They hope that prospect Eduardo Nunez can ease the load on both Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
They also could tell Jeter that over the life of his next contract, the Yankees reserve the right to move his position and/or drop him from the lineup due to performance.
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews contributed to this report.
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