Under ordinary circumstances the drop-off from a typical Jeter season would be significant enough to make management reassess what it should pay him. Obviously Jeter is an extraordinary case, but how extraordinary?
Complicating matters is the Alex Rodriguez contract, which has another seven years worth $209 million, plus those potential milestone home-run bonuses.
Jeter may be the ultimate team guy, but two former teammates believe that when it comes to getting paid, his pride will demand that he get something approaching A-Rod money, regardless of what he hits this season.
"It's up to (the Yankees)," one former player said. "Knowing Jeet, he's not going to let an off-year, if it turns out to be an off-year, play a role in what he thinks he should get paid.
He just doesn't think like that. He'll be more convinced than ever that he'll come back and hit .330 next year."
The second former teammate essentially agreed.
"The question is whether (Brian) Cashman and the others think this is the start of a decline," he said. "And if so, are they going to factor it into the negotiations or just pay him for being the face of the franchise all these years? Knowing Derek, he'll say all the right things, but he won't give an inch based on his numbers this season."
Obviously the Yankees won't want to go to war with Jeter, knowing it likely would be a PR nightmare.
"They're in a tough spot," one prominent agent said Tuesday. "Because the way he's hitting, the gap between his true value as an old shortstop without power and his Yankee-legend value is so enormous, I'm not sure how you bridge that gap without causing some hard feelings."