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How much is too much?

It looks like Hal Steinbrenner ’91 is not quite as publicity shy as I previously believed. With NY Yankee captain Derek Jeter playing out his contract, the team is faced with the dilemma of how much to offer him for his next contract. As noted in this article, the negotiations could get a little messy:

But Steinbrenner was unable to put a time frame on how long negotiations would take or hazard a guess on how smoothly they would go. “Who knows?” he said. “You just never know with these things. Both parties need to be happy with the deal, and that may make things more complicated, I don’t know.

“There’s always the possibility that things could get messy.”

Steinbrenner is facing a difficult decision. From a purely “objective” perspective, Jeter is highly unlikely to be “worth” anything close to the $18 million per year he has been earning on a going forward basis. He’s 36 years old, plays a position where very few play productively into their late ’30’s and early 40’s, and is already showing signs of decline:

Jeter, 36, is coming off the worst overall season of his 16-year major league career. His .270 batting average, the lowest since he became a regular in 1996, is 44 points below his career batting average and represents a 64-point drop from his 2009 production, when he hit .334. His 179 hits matched the lowest total since his injury-shortened 2003 season, and his .340 on-base percentage was the lowest since his rookie season of 1995.

On the other hand, he is the most revered Yankee since Mickey Mantle, I would guess (Yankee fans should weigh in here, since I am a lifelong Red Sox fan and am certainly not qualified to opine on this subject). He’s almost certainly a first ballot Hall of Famer, and the Yankees have nothing if not tons of money.

The best solution, I suppose would be a short term contact which could keep Jeter’s salary close to where it is now, without the team assuming an undue risk of a total performance meltdown, but I don’t know whether Jeter would take something like that. Perhaps a 4-year, $40 million contact might do the trick.

What do Yankee fans think? What should Hal do?