Jeter opts in, Red Sox make qualifiers, and other stove bolts . . .

Derek Jeter will earn $2.5 million more than the 2014 player option he could have picked up would have paid him. ESPN’s Andrew Marchand reports the Yankees have signed Jeter to a one-year, $12 million deal for 2014.

The Captain returns . . .

The Captain returns . . .

A source with knowledge of the negotiations told ESPN New York that the talks were largely held between Jeter and team owner Hal Steinbrenner, who both live in Tampa. Jeter’s agent, Casey Close, handled the details of the contract.

Jeter, who turns 40 in June, had the option to opt out of the final season of his current four-year contract and try free agency. The original deal called for him to make $9.5 million in 2014–nearly half of the $17 million he had earned the previous three seasons. But Steinbrenner and Jeter made sure that didn’t happen and helped each other’s causes.

The contract makes Jeter the single longest-tenured Yankee in the history of the franchise. However, Marchand also notes the Yankees will be looking—whether in system or on the market—for a top backup in the event Jeter needs to take more games at designated hitter or time off.

He spent most of 2013 on the disabled list thanks to periodic complications tied to the ankle he dislocated in Game One of the 2012 American League Championship Series. ┬áThis time, though, the Yankees and the Captain avoided the acrimony that battered the negotiations for Jeter’s freshly-expired four-year deal.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

Ellsbury's still celebrating . . .

Ellsbury’s still celebrating . . .

RED SOX MAKE QUALIFYING OFFERS—Even as Boston continues the World Series party, the world champion Red Sox will likely make qualifying offers to first baseman Mike Napoli and shortstop Stephen Drew and consider likewise for center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

CBS’s Jon Heyman says the Red Sox actually want Napoli and Drew to return, but the qualifying offers guard against either or both becoming free agents—the Red Sox would get first-round draft picks in compensation if the two leave. Both men played key roles in the Red Sox’s World Series conquest and were two of the short-term, low-cost options from last winter that the Red Sox brought aboard.

There’s no word on whether the Red Sox are trying to work a new deal out with Ellsbury, who’s thought to be the number two free agent on this winter’s market behind Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano, but the qualifying offer was all but predictable considering Ellsbury’s status this winter.

Ellsbury, for his part, isn’t thinking about his job options just yet. He’s told the Boston Globe he’s too busy celebrating and appreciating the World Series triumph to worry about free agency just yet. That doesn’t mean there aren’t eyes upon him now: the Mariners (Ellsbury is native to the Pacific Northwest), the Cubs, the Reds, the Dodgers, the Astros, the Cardinals, and the Nationals are thought to have eyes for him.

Santana---hoping to be ready . . .

Santana—hoping to be ready . . .

SANTANA BOUGHT OUT—It isn’t that great a surprise, but the Mets have bought out Johan Santana’s 2014 option for $5.5 million. That gets the Mets off the hook for $25 million but also leaves them the option to offer the veteran righthander an incentive-packed, low-base 2014 deal.

Santana has said he’ll be ready for spring training and hopes to stay a Met after missing 2013 recovering from a second torn anterior capsule surgery. The Mets, however, are thought to have hinted that bringing Santana back isn’t a top priority. Which will leave them needing to fill two rotation slots, thanks to Matt Harvey due to miss 2014 recuperating from Tommy John surgery.

Shields: picked up . . .

Shields: picked up . . .

SHIELDS UP—Maybe the least surprising among early hot stove moves is the Royals picking up righthander James Shields’s $13.5 million 2014 option. He led the American League in innings pitched, finished with a 3.15 ERA, and had a 1.25 WHIP in 34 starts. Shields is due to hit the open market after 2014, but several stories say the Royals want to work a new deal with the pitcher before then if possible.

UBALDO ROLLS THE DICE—Ubaldo Jimenez helped pitch the Indians to the American League wild card game this year. Now he’s going to roll the free agency dice, after the Indians picked up his 2014 option ($8 million) but Jimenez elected to void it. Jiminez flipped from leading the league in 2012 losses to a 13-9/3.30 ERA in 2013.

Jimenez: gambling on free agency?

Jimenez: gambling on free agency?

If the Indians want to keep him, they have until 4 November to make a qualifying offer, said to be $14 million, and he would have a week to accept. If he declines, the Indians would get a first-round 2014 draft pick should he sign with another club.

The Indians surely would want Jimenez back after his comeback 2013 and especially with the way he pitched after the All-Star break. He was 6-5 after the break but with a jaw-dropping 1.82 ERA in that span. In September Jiminez was nearly untouchable: his September ERA was 1.09, and he led the league in strikeouts on the month.

TWO DODGERS DECLINED—The National League West champion Dodgers have declined options on second baseman Mark Ellis and pitcher Chris Capuano, making them free agents the day after the World Series ended, Fox Sports reports. Ellis became the odd man out after the Dodgers signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero; Capuano’s 2013 was lost, mostly, to injuries and the team’s surplus of pitching, the Dodgers ultimately leaving him off the National League Championship Series roster.

Williams at the bridge . . .

Williams at the bridge . . .

THE NATS HAVE A SKIPPER—He’s Matt Williams, former MLB star third baseman and third base coach for the Diamondbacks. Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post broke down the prospects for Williams—who’s never managed other than a short spell in the fall instructional leagues—last weekend, calling the move a leap of faith worth taking for the Nats.

The 2013 Nats were seen as lapse in fundamentals, and Williams has a reputation for stressing fundamentals while still being a players’ coach.

 

2 thoughts on “Jeter opts in, Red Sox make qualifiers, and other stove bolts . . .

  1. This contract could be the last for Jeter, unless he stays healthy all season. The Yankees can’t afford to lose Cano, since he was only regular on Yankees to hit over .300 in 2013.

    Would love to see the Cubs sign Jacoby Ellsbury, since there only locks for next season are Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. Jorge Soler and Javier Baez probably won’t play a major league game till September or 2015 and then Kris Bryant may be ready by 2015 or 2016. Castro needs to hit better than he did last year and Rizzo hit for power, but didn’t hit for average in 2013.

    • I can see the Cubs having interest in Ellsbury, especially since Theo Epstein knows him well, but I don’t know for certain that the Cubs will try pulling the trigger on any Ellsbury deal. Until or unless Ellsbury opts for free agency, of course. It’ll also take watching what the Red Sox do once they make the qualifying offer—do they sit down and talk serious or do they let Ellsbury walk. Right now, I don’t see the Red Sox having a viable center field option or a leadoff option in the system who’s quite ready yet, though there could always be a sleeper there. If Rizzo hits for consistent power and run production I don’t think they worry about his batting average all that much. I’d like to see Rizzo get just enough more plate patience to work a few more counts into hitter’s counts or walks, though.

      The Yankees may not be able to afford to lose Cano, but they may not be able to afford the $300 million he’s said to want, either, especially after what they’ve been through with Alex Rodriguez. I know, Cano doesn’t have even A-Rod’s vanity case, never mind his entire baggage set, but even the Yankees have to learn their lessons in gigadeals sooner or later. I don’t see Jeter playing much beyond 2014 if he stays healthy enough to play. Watch his production and take it from there. Jeter’s one of those players who impresses you as the type who won’t hang around if they can’t produce while healthy. Granted he’s badly overrated as a defender for the most part (you could say of him that by the time he learned how to play his better shortstop he got too old to play it that way), but if he can’t be what he usually was as a plate presence when he has his health back, I don’t see him hanging around beyond.

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