Derek Jeter turns 36 Saturday. In baseball years, it’s a corner that uncomfortable to turn because it carries many questions about the future. For fans of the iconic Yankee, it is a reminder that the summers will soon be numbered for the future Hall of Famer. Career Yankees Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle were done by 36, Phil Rizzuto was 38, Tony Lazzeri 35.
There is the pragmatic matter of Jeter’s next contract, which could be his last as a player. A person of less character would expect to be the highest paid Yankee, but Jeter knows he will not be in Alex Rodriguez’ 2011 range of $31 million. Jeter, who is making $22.6 million this season, can expect a three or four year deal to finish in pinstripes.
Next, there is the question of Jeter’s suitability to be an everyday shortstop as he heads for his late 30s. Jeter likely will be the first to realize when he can no longer play at the level he expects. He will not have to be pulled from the job. And do you think Jeter sees himself as a designated hitter just to prolong his career?
But there are the positives that lie ahead. With 2,832 career hits, Jeter will join the 3,000 club next season. And with five World Series rings, chances are he can add a couple more. He has joked about catching Yogi Berra, who has 10. So, it’s not nearly over for Jeter.