One down, quite a few moves to go.
The Yankees successfully crossed one item off their to-do list Friday, signing Derek Jeter to a one-year, $12-million contract.
The deal was accomplished primarily through direct talks between Jeter and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner -- both live in Tampa -- and the shortstop's longtime agent, Casey Close.
Jeter had a player option for $9.5 million that he had until Monday to exercise, and the expectation was that he ultimately would trigger it. But a source said Steinbrenner didn't want to take the chance that Jeter would not exercise it and become a free agent.
Both the Yankees and Jeter wanted to avoid the ugliness of three offseasons ago, the last time he was a free agent, when talks became public. After signing this most recent three-year deal that contained the player option, Jeter described himself as "angry'' about the way things had played out publicly.
With all that the Yankees have to accomplish this offseason -- re-signing Robinson Cano, addressing up to three spots in their starting rotation and improving their infield and outfield depth, to name a few -- the club didn't want to take the chance of adding a complicated Jeter negotiation.
The deal will not help the Yankees in their quest to bring payroll to $189 million to avoid severe luxury-tax penalties. Had Jeter picked up his option, his salary number for luxury- tax purposes would have been in the neighborhood of $10 million compared to the $12 million he'll now get. But one source with knowledge of the team's thinking said the $189- million payroll, while still very much a goal of Steinbrenner's, wasn't an organizational consideration in this case.
"It was never discussed,'' the source said.
Jeter, who will turn 40 on June 26, made $17 million in 2013, a season he has characterized several times as "a nightmare.'' He appeared in only 17 games because of four stints on the disabled list and hit .190 (12-for-63) with one homer, one double and seven RBIs.
Before 2013, in his first 18 major-league seasons, he spent time on the disabled list on only five occasions and missed 82 games while on the DL.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding Jeter's health and his ability to be an everyday shortstop at his age, the Yankees are in the market for free- agent infield help.
They have a serious interest in Stephen Drew -- it remains to be seen how mutual that interest will be, given that the intent still is for Jeter to play shortstop -- and they also are interested in bringing back Brendan Ryan, acquired from the Mariners late last season.