On his way out of the GM meetings this morning, Hal Steinbrenner characterized the Derek Jeter negotiations as "definitely a big deal'' and said he was "happy with the tenor of the negotiations so far.''
"We're working hard at it and I think there's mutual respect on both sides,'' Steinbrenner said during a three-minute interview session during which the Yankees managing general partner was waiting, clearly impatiently, for a chauffeured car to take him back to Tampa. "There's a lot of history there, and it's a good history.''
Steinbrenner refused to get into specifics of the negotiations -- ESPN New York reported on Wednesday that the Yankees would like to offer Jeter three years at $21 million a year, while Jeter wants a minimum of four years -- and tried to change the subject several times by attempting to engage the media in a discussion of golf.
But the subject kept coming back to Jeter. "This is a business negotiation,'' Steinbrenner said "No one wants to make it personal because it's not personal. Both sides have a lot of respect for one another. My family has a lot of respect for Derek and I beleive it's a mutual thing. It's been a good history and we're going to try to keep it by the book.''
Stenbrenner said he hoped to wrap up the deal in time for Christmas. "I would like to be home relaxing on Christmas Eve,'' he said. "But look, it'll take as long as it takes. The important thing is we don't make it personal. We just got to keep on talking.''