Derek Jeter, the heart and soul of the New York Yankees, who has won five World Series rings with the club, has decided to make the 2014 season his last. He announced today that he “could not be more sure.”
“I know it in my heart. The 2014 Season will be my last year playing professional baseball,” said Jeter on his Facebook page. “For the last 20 years I’ve been completely focused on two goals: playing my best and helping the Yankees win. That means that for 365 days a year my every thought and action were geared toward that goal. It’s now time for something new,” he continued. “But before that, I want to soak in every moment of every day this year, so I can remember it for the rest of my life. And most importantly, I want to help the Yankees reach our goal of winning another championship,” concluded Jeter.
The surprise announcement will leave the Yankees in an unusual predicament: who is going to play shortstop full-time after the first-ballot Hall of Famer leaves the game? That is something the Yankees’ front office hasn’t asked themselves in 20 years.
The answer isn’t easy. The Yankees have a terrible farm system and shortstop is among the weakest positions in the game right now. They will likely turn to a hodgepodge of players — as they did last season when Jeter spent the majority of it on the bench with a broken ankle.
It will be an odd transition for Yankees fans. Jeter will be the last of the core-four to retire, following in the footsteps of Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. And the team spent nearly a half billion dollars in new players this offseason — it’s not hard to imagine that this was partially in the service of supporting Jeter during his last year.