Derek Jeter not a Yankee? It's possible

Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees takes

Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees takes the field to play against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. (July 27, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

It's very important for Derek Jeter to be the shortstop of the New York Yankees.

But Jeter knows there may come a day when the Yankees don't want him to be their shortstop. Especially in a season in which he is going to turn 40 years old.

That could be why Jeter decided to drop a nugget to an ESPN.com reporter in a Q & A posted on their website Thursday night.

The Yankees captain, answering a question about Peyton Manning, said he could see himself playing for another team one day.

"Well, if I wanted to keep playing, yes," Jeter said. "It's a business. People forget that."

Jeter, 38, declined an interview request after going 2-for-4 in the Yankees' 10-7 win over the Blue Jays on Thursday night. He has one guaranteed year left on his contract for $17 million and an $8 million player option for 2014 (which could grow to $11.5 million if he reaches certain incentives).

If he declines the option, he becomes a free agent after next season.

Derek Jeter, shortstop of the Tigers? Of the Dodgers? Of the (gasp) Red Sox?

Sure, it could happen.

Jeter, batting .324 and leading the majors with 202 hits, is in the midst of a wondrous season. He is playing on one healthy ankle. Come up with a shortstop you'd rather have for this season. The list isn't long.

But do you want to pay Jeter $11.5 million a year or more starting in 2015 and continuing into his 40s? The Yankees played hard ball with Jeter on this contract and are still reeling from Alex Rodriguez's massive deal, which will pay him through age 42. Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has publicly expressed the need to get the team's payroll down to $189 million, the luxury tax threshold, by the 2014 season.

Jeter is said to be someone who never forgets a slight. He admitted he was angry of the mud-slinging and sniping that sullied the last negotiations after the 2010 season. He has never entertained the notion of moving to a position other than shortstop.

But up until Thursday night, he had never spoken about playing for a team other than the Yankees. It will be interesting to see how Jeter answers questions about this before Friday night's game. There will be plenty.

Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio finished their careers only playing for the Yankees. Babe Ruth didn't. Jeter's idol, Cal Ripken Jr., only played for the Orioles. Michael Jordan finished with the Wizards. Peyton Manning is a Bronco.

Derek Jeter the shortstop of the Mets? Of the Phillies?

Could it happen? Of course it could. Derek Jeter just told you it could. And told Yankees management, too. So the negotiating for Jeter's next contract has begun. It's going to be a long time before it's over.

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When will Derek Jeter be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame?

First ballot Second ballot Third ballot Between 4th and 10th ballot Won't make it

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