- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Yankees dared Derek Jeter to test the free-agent market. They even told their 36-year-old shortstop that he needed to drink some "reality potion." And though The Captain is back, he's not happy about how contract negotiations went.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't angry how some of this went," Jeter said at the news conference to announce his three-year, $51 million deal that includes a player option for a fourth year on Tuesday at the team's spring training complex.
Jeter did not like that the negotiations went public as the Yankees and Jeter's agent, Casey Close, went back-and-forth in the press. Jeter even distanced himself from Close's comments in which he described the negotiations as "baffling."
"I'm going to be honest with you guys, the thing that bothered me the most was how public this became," said Jeter, who thought there was a perception he was being greedy and demanding. "This was a negotiation that was supposed to be private. It was an uncomfortable position I felt I was in. It was not enjoyable experience because throughout the years I've prided myself on keeping things out of the papers and out of the media. This turned into a big public thing. That is something I was not happy about. I let my feelings be known."
On three occasions during the negotiations, Jeter met with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. While the Yankees and Jeter have agreed to reconcile, Cashman had no regrets about speaking publicly about Jeter.
"I was angry I was put in the position to have to respond," said Cashman, referring to Close's comments. "Anger met anger. You get past it and you move forward."
The shortstop and the club reached a preliminary agreement Saturday on the deal, which also includes an $8 million player option for 2014. Jeter was coming off a $189 million, 10-year contract. He was initially offered a $45 million, three-year deal. Jeter reportedly asked for a five- or six-year year deal for $22-24 million per season.
He said he told the team he would not test free agency. But with such a discrepancy between the two sides, the Yankees felt Jeter should find out his true market value. It is unlikely Jeter could have gotten anything close to the contract he received from the Yankees on the open market.
"I was angry about it because I was the one who said, 'I didn't want to do it,'" said Jeter, who added he is now happy with the deal he signed. "I was the one who said, 'I wasn't going to do it.' To hear the organization tell me to go shop it, when I just told you I wasn't going to, yeah, if I'm going to be honest, I was angry about it."
Jeter, coming off a season in which he hit a career-worst .270, will be the shortstop next season. He said the team never approached him about switching positions in the future. But with his 37th birthday prior to next year's All-Star break, it is clear Jeter is going to have to play at a high level to keep his position.
"He can play shortstop for us right now, there is no doubt in my mind about that," Cashman said. "If I have to move him from shortstop, if we believe that is the case, if he plays himself off the position, we will adjust."
Jeter doesn't think he has something to prove, but he feels that last season was the anomaly.
"You would like to think that last year was a hiccup," Jeter said. "It is my job to prove that it was."
Ultimately, Jeter, Steinbrenner and Cashman -- who were joined on the dais by Yankees manager Joe Girardi -- put on a happy face. Steinbrenner even sided with Jeter in his disappointment with the negotiations.
"We were all upset and a little bit angry that it reached the level that it did," Steinbrenner said. "You always had unnamed sources making this comment or that comment, but that is what sells papers. But that is why we sat down together face-to-face. It was a difficult three, four weeks, but we got it done and everyone is ready to move on."
Jeter said he was happy with the deal he has in place now.
"We are a big happy family," Jeter said. "We had everybody up there. You play somewhere long enough, you are in an organization, you want to call it a relationship, I'm sure there are probably ups and downs."
One of Jeter's biggest supporters through the years has been former Yankees manager Joe Torre. Torre said he followed the back-and-forth from afar.
"You don't like to see that, because, as I say, both parties wanted the same thing," Torre said from Orlando where he was honored with other retired managers. "But again it came and went quick, which I think was important. To me, Jeter, I'm a little partial, but knowing how he feels about the Yankees, I'm just glad it worked out for both."
As for Jeter, in the end, he said he was happy with the deal, and so were the Yankees.
"The process can stink, at times," Cashman said. "It really can. But it is what it is. Sometimes you can walk through fire to get to the promised land."
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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