Over the weekend, we learned that the Yankees are planning on Eduardo Nunez taking over at shortstop in 2012. Bill Madden from the New York Daily News reported the following:
No, the real deal-breaking prospect, as far as the Yankees were concerned, was infielder Eduardo Nunez. Yankee GM Brian Cashman was willing to sacrifice Montero - despite all the scouts' raves about his power potential - because he has a surplus of catchers. Nunez, on the other hand, is viewed by Cashman as a big part of the Yankee future which is why, when Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik asked for his inclusion in the deal as a substitute for injured second-base prospect David Adams, the Yankee GM essentially said: "Enough!" Turns out Zduriencik was right about Adams being potentially damaged goods - the hard-hitting second baseman never came back from the severely broken ankle he suffered at Double-A Trenton and then underwent additional surgery after the season, precluding him from making up for all the lost time in winter ball – but in asking for Nunez he was asking for the player the Yankees are now viewing as Derek Jeter's successor. Though no one in the Yankee high command is ever going to even speculate about the future after 2011 - especially with the very sensitive contract negotiations with Jeter about to get underway – but it's becoming increasingly clear the plan is to phase out Jorge Posada next season when his contract expires, opening up the DH slot for Alex Rodriguez, thereby allowing Jeter to move to third, making room for a more athletic shortstop, which would be the 24-year-old Venezuelan, Nunez, who hit .289 with 50 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 118 games at Triple-A Scranton this season.
Wow. Derek Jeter to move to third base? It may be fine for the Yankees lineup, but for fantasy purposes his value would drop in a big way, as fantasy owners look for power from their third baseman and Jeter is more of a high BA hitter....well, until 2010.
So, is this the Yankees plan for the next few years, or a negotiation ploy in their contract negotiations with Jeter this offseason. Well, ESPN's Wallace Matthews tweeted the following quotes from an interview with Hal Steinbrenner:
Hal on Jeter: we've already reached out to each other We definitely want derek bacvk. we dfinitely want Mo back. They're great Yankees
More Hal on Jeter negotiations: There's always the possibility that things could get messy
Are the Yankees sending a message to the Jeter camp that they will play hardball in the upcoming contract negotiations? I think so. I think these are calculated and the Yankees have already decided they do not want to pay Jeter anything close to his previous contract.
Jeter is coming off his worst season hitting .270-.340-.370 with 10 HRs, 67 RBIs, 111 runs scored, and 18 SBs. His triple slash line was much lower than his career slash line of .309-.377-.472, as was his BABIP-.307 vs .354.
I don't doubt the Yankees will resign Jeter, but I wonder how much they want to pay Jeter, especially for a 36 year old shortstop who is noticably losing range in the infield. The comments from Hal Steinbrenner ring loud and clear that the Yankees will not make this decision easy for Derek Jeter.