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For Yankees, plot thickens around Jeter, Rivera and Lee

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter Photo Credit: Getty Images

Derek Jeter wants a four-year deal; the Yankees want to give him three years.

Mariano Rivera wants a two-year deal; the Yanks want to give him one year.

And free agent Rangers left-hander Cliff Lee just wants years from either Texas or the Yankees.

Here’s a rundown of the latest news on each front.

Jeter

Offering their 36-year-old shortstop arbitration was once an option, but the Yankees have backed off that approach. Not only would they risk paying Jeter more than the $21 million he earned in 2010 — they’ve offered three years, $45 million — but arbitration hearings tend to be rough on the ego, and they would result in only a one-year contract. General manager Brian Cashman has already come under some anonymous inside criticism for lacking a velvety touch in his negotiations with the icon, and arbitration can only create more hard feelings. Cashman did tell Jeter to test the market, and if he finds a better situation, “Fine. That’s the way it works,” Cashman reportedly said Tuesday. Negotiations could stretch well into December.

Rivera

No such arbitration worries here, since the Yankees would not mind handing over $15 million to their aging, though still very effective, closer. In fact, offering Rivera, 40, arbitration would be the surest way of keeping him around, though one wonders if any other team would spend bigger bucks than the Yanks for his services.

Lee

The Yankees’ offer reportedly stands at six years, $140 million, but Lee wants a seventh year. Vibes coming out of Texas indicate the Rangers will try to match any Yankees offer to keep him. The reported offer exceeds the record-setting $23 million average that landed CC Sabathia in the Bronx before the 2009 season.

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