Will the Yankees really adhere to a strict payroll? Derek Jeter isn't convinced.
Jeter, recuperating from left ankle surgery, looking trim and saying he will be ready for Opening Day, was at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night with his Turn 2 Foundation, which sponsored a holiday party and gift giving for 500 children.
Jeter has heard all about the payroll constraints that are to be put in place by 2014.
"I don't know what to make of it, it's the Yankees," he said. "I'll believe it when we get to spring training. Just when you expect us not to do something, something happens. That's pretty much been the norm the 17 years that I've been here. I don't pay attention to the payroll and what the payroll's supposed to be in this year or that year, tax benefits, it's too much for me to think about. You just show up and see who's there, but I wouldn't be surprised by anything that happens in our organization. Unless the off season's over and we haven't done anything, then I can address it."
Earlier in the day, Yankees president Randy Levine reiterated the organization's stance on payroll, saying, "the goal here is very, very simple. We believe in 2014 that at $189 million dollars, which will be the highest payroll in baseball, that we can put a really quality championship team on the field. We believe that's very doable, we believe we can do it. And it's not that we are looking to save money, it's not that we're looking to not be as productive as we can . . . We think it makes us better and smart and that's what we're going to try and do."
Jeter, who turns 39 in June, has two years remaining on his contract. He will earn $17 million next season and has a player option for $8 million in 2014. The Yankees are not thinking about the next contract. "Right now Derek's got two years to go, we're not going to speculate on anything," Levine said. "You know the tradition of the Yankees, we let people play out their contracts. Derek Jeter is a great Yankee, he's got two years to go. The year he had last year was sensational. We expect big things again this year. Two years from now we'll see where we are."
Jeter wore a boot on his ankle, which he broke in Game 1 of the ALCS against Detroit. "It was a tough first five, six weeks where you pretty much sit with your foot elevated," he said. "But now I feel as though I'm moving around pretty good."