The Yankees know what Jeter means to them, and to their fans. Jeter knows what the Yankees mean to him, to his legacy, to his place in history.
It is a marriage destined to continue, and one that should continue, especially if Jeter has a 2010 that resembles 2009, when one of the five best shortstops ever born had one of his finest offensive seasons, when he addressed his lacking defense and responded with as strong a season with the glove as anyone could have asked. Jeter is not LaDainian Tomlinson. He may have miles on his odometer, but his engine is still in prime condition. And still has prime years left.
But over the past couple of days, the Yankees have gotten a taste of what renewing those vows will really mean. Adeinis Hechavarria, a 21-year-old Cuban refugee who starred for his homeland's junior team two years ago and defected to Mexico last year, was widely believed earmarked for the Yankees.
It made all the sense in the world: Hechavarria's talents translate to $10 million, about $2 million more than the Red Sox gave Jose Iglesias, another Cuban defector. Hechavarria's skills could easily translate to second base or center field, where the Yankees might have openings in the near future. And the Yankees . . . well, they are the Yankees. More often than not they get what -- and whom -- they want.
Only it doesn't appear they are going to get Hechavarria.
Sunday, the Post's George King, citing industry sources, reported that Hechavarria is all but assured of signing with the Blue Jays. Losing Hechavarria is hardly a gut-shot for the Yankees; whether he could withstand the rigors of major-league baseball and ever be Jeter's true heir remains unanswered, and will for a few years. It's why Hechavarria looked elsewhere that's intriguing.
He doesn't want to be a second baseman. He doesn't want to be a center fielder.
He wants to be a shortstop.
And right now -- and for the foreseeable future -- the Yankees already have a shortstop.
I don't think losing out on Hechavarria is a big deal considering he has gone from 19 to 21 in a few months and didn't really hit all that well in Cuba. I also don't know if Jeter as a roadblock is really going to be an issue after the next year or two, at least as far as blocking the signing of an amateur talent who's a few years away from seeing the majors.
I just fear a 5 year or 6 year extension that keeps Jeter in pinstripes past an age where he can remain useful, but we'll see what happens.