Source: Derek Jeter's agent, Yanks meet

Updated: December 1, 2010, 12:07 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Yankee executives met with Derek Jeter's agent, Casey Close, Tuesday in Tampa, re-opening talks between the team and its free-agent shortstop, according to a baseball official with knowledge of the talks.

This is the second face-to-face meeting the two sides have had. The initial meeting was a straight-forward clear-the-air conversation before the negotiations began. This is the first meeting since the two sides have gone back-and-forth in the media.

The source would not say which Yankee officials were involved in the discussions on Tuesday, and it was unclear if Jeter was present. Jeter and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner both live in the Tampa area. Earlier Tuesday, an official with knowledge of the talks said the Yankees expected to hear back from Jeter by the end of the week.

After Tuesday, a counter-proposal from Jeter's camp could be forthcoming. The Yankees have offered a $45-million, three-year contract. Originally, Jeter was seeking around $23 million per season for four or five years.

Fox Sports first reported the meeting between the Yankees and Jeter.

"I feel confident that Derek will remain with the Yankees, and my brother does, as well," New York's co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said Tuesday night in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Ideally, the Yankees would like to wrap up Jeter's contract prior to Monday's winter meetings so they could then finish Mariano Rivera's deal and focus fully on their pursuit of Cliff Lee.

Unless Close has some mystery team in his back pocket, Jeter has limited leverage in the negotiations. The Yankees' offer, while a paycut from the $18.9 million average of Jeter's last 10-year contract, will still keep Jeter as the highest paid middle infielder in baseball if he were to accept the current deal.

"We want to keep him. He's very important," Hank Steinbrenner said. "I certainly hope he remains with us and he certainly should."

Jeter, who will turn 37 before next year's All-Star break, hit a career-worst .270 last season. The Yankees could allow Jeter to save some face by raising their offer. They are disinclined to add a fourth year.

Last week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman encouraged Jeter to test the market and see if he could find a better contract. The Yankees believe their offer is far more than any other team will bid. Thus far, Jeter has no known other offers.

On Monday, a source close to the negotiations told ESPNNewYork.com that Jeter needs to "drink the reality potion," meaning he needs to understand that the Yankees are not going to raise their offer much, if at all, and this is the best deal he will receive. Hanging over the negotiations all along has been that Alex Rodriguez would average more than twice as much per season than Jeter under the current deal.

A-Rod is in the midst of a 10-year contract that will be completed in 2017. He could make more than $300 million if he reaches all his home run bonuses.

In New York, the majority of fans seem to favor the Yankees approach as Jeter does not seem to be getting much sympathy, despite taking a paycut and the fact that A-Rod -- who has embarrassed the organization numerous times -- is making so much more.

Andrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews cover the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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