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Sunday, November 21, 2010
Updated: November 22, 3:41 AM ET
Derek Jeter's agent: Yankees 'baffling'

ESPN.com news services

The New York Yankees' negotiating strategy with shortstop Derek Jeter is "baffling," his agent says.

"There's a reason the Yankees themselves have stated Derek Jeter is their modern-day Babe Ruth," said Jeter's agent, Casey Close, according to the New York Daily News.

"Derek's significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees' negotiating strategy remains baffling."

Jeter became a free agent for the first time in his career when his 10-year, $189 million contract expired at the end of the 2010 season.

"They continue to argue their points in the press and refuse to acknowledge Derek's total contribution to their franchise," Close added, according to the report.

The Yankees have reportedly made Jeter an offer for three years and $45 million. But Jeter is seeking a deal lasting at least four years and preferably longer, a source told ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews last week.

Jeter, 36, earned a sixth career Gold Glove in 2010. But his batting average dropped to .270 and his slugging percentage fell to .370 -- both well below his career averages of .314 and .452, respectively.

"He's a baseball player, and this is a player negotiation. Everything he is and who he is gets factored in," team president Randy Levine said of the talks last week. "But this isn't a licensing deal or a commercial rights deal, he's a baseball player. With that said, you can't take away from who he is. He brings a lot to the organization. And we bring a lot to him."

Jeter and Close met with Levine, team co-owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman the weekend of Nov. 6 at the team's offices in Tampa. Cashman and Close have been talking since then.

"Look, this is a business negotiation,'' Hal Steinbrenner said of the talks last week. "None of us wants to make it personal, because it's not personal. ... My family's got a lot of respect for Derek and I believe it is a mutual thing. It's been a good history. We're gonna do our best to keep it by the book."