The 2013 season was one of complete misery for New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. It started with a whimper and just got worse.
Jeter fractured his left ankle in Game 1 of the 2012 Detroit Tigers, ending his season. The Yankees, minus their captain, were then swept in four games to end their season.
Jeter underwent surgery to repair the break in his ankle less than a week later, and at the time his prognosis was good. In fact, he was expected to be ready for the start of the 2013 season.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
Jeter’s progress in rehab was halted several times for a variety of issues related to his repaired ankle, starting the season on the disabled list. He later learned that there was a small crack near the repaired area of his ankle. He didn’t return to the field until July 11 and would only play in 17 games altogether, continuing to be plagued with ankle soreness and a calf strain. Jeter finally shut it down for good on Sept. 7, hitting just .190 with 12 total hits on the season.
It was by far the worst season of his career, and it happened to come in the final year of his contract.
However, Jeter held a mutual option for the 2014 season for $9.5 million, and it was largely expected that he would exercise that option. But instead, the Yankees announced on Friday that they had signed their long-time captain and franchise hits leader to a new one-year deal for $12 million.
So, just why did the Yankees decide to pay $2.5 million more to a 39-year-old shortstop coming off an injury-plagued season? There are a couple of answers to that question.
First, Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner and Jeter hashed out the details of the contract between them. Steinbrenner indicated that he wanted to end any possibility of Jeter actually opting out of his original contract and having to deal with even more issues in an offseason that will be full of them to begin with.
Second, the Yankees could use a bit of goodwill right around now. They finished out of the playoffs, they suffered through a season in which the likes of Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Brennan Boesch were heavily relied up on at times, and they saw two legends in Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera retire from the game.
The thought of losing Jeter, one of the original Core Four, was likely too much for Steinbrenner to bear.
Third, Jeter can simply never be counted out. In 2012, he led the majors with 216 hits in his age 38 season, hitting .316 with 15 home runs and 58 RBI. This was after experts said he was regressing after a sub-par 2010 season and a dismal first half of the 2011 season as well.
So much for that.
To say that Jeter is washed up simply can’t be said, not after what was seen from him the last time he was fully healthy. A normal offseason of conditioning could very well have Jeter back in the form that he displayed in 2012.
Considering what he’s done throughout his brilliant career, I am just not going to count him down and out.
Jeter deserves the benefit of the doubt, just as he richly deserves the $12 million deal he received on Friday. Yankees fans are in love with their captain, and rightfully so. He is the last vestige of the most recent dynasty, and he absolutely deserves to go out on his terms
Derek Jeter has more than earned that goodwill.