Reports came out yesterday that Joe Torre said it is possible that Derek Jeter would be willing to take a reduced role on the New York Yankees. Jeter is a legendary player and someone who was an all-star as recently as 2012. Would he really be able to handle this kind of role?
First of all, it depends on what the Yankees do this off-season. If the Yankees added Stephen Drew or Jhonny Peralta in free agency then maybe Jeter would be willing to take a role that sees him play DH more and shortstop less. I’m not sure if he, or the Yankees would try this if it is for Eduardo Nunez.
To me, in evaluating Jeter, you completely throw out last season. Even when he played, you could tell he wasn’t 100 percent healthy. Jeter was always someone who would hustle down the first base line, even on the most routine of groundballs. In 2013 he just couldn’t do that. Even with his already reduced range, the ankle clearly had an effect.
If Jeter can still hit like he has in the past, he can still be an important piece to the puzzle in 2014. The thing is, Alex Rodriguez, when and if he plays too, will also need time at DH and it will be about managing days off and DH days for each player. These are the kind of things that happen with an aging roster.
Jeter is not going to be a guy who hangs around if he’s hitting .220. He’ll know when to walk away and it will be on his terms. Once he’s gone he won’t come back either. If this is his last season though, it will feel like a very different finale then what Mariano Rivera had. Rivera was still the closer, we don’t know if Jeter will be the full-time shortstop.
I don’t know how Jeter will handle a reduced role. I don’t think anyone really does. The thing is, it may not even come down to that.