12/08/2010 1:33 PM ET
Borden: Yanks happy Jeter deal is done
Team has bigger fish to fry as the offseason moves on
By Sam Borden / SNY.tv
Derek Jeter may be smiling here, but he wasn't always thrilled with Hal Streinbrenner (left). (AP)

It was big news on Tuesday that Derek Jeter said he was "angry" with how his contract negotiations with the Yankees had gone, "angry" with how the dealings between the biggest franchise in the world and one of the biggest players in the world somehow ended up being played out anywhere other than behind a set of locked doors. You can only imagine how Jeter feels about WikiLeaks.

The Yankees, on the other hand, couldn't care less. Yes, sure, they would prefer that Jeter be happy and content, but ultimately the most important aspect of the Jeter negotiation is that it's over. Truth is, for as much attention as Jeter's story got -- and it got plenty -- there are more critical aspects to this Yankees offseason still to come.

Does Jeter still matter? Of course he does. As it stands right now, he's the Yankees' leadoff hitter and their shortstop, though you could certainly make an argument that neither one of those will still be the case by the end of this new three-year deal.

No, the reason why Jeter's situation -- and his unhappiness with how it developed -- is virtually inconsequential to the Yankees is because there was never any doubt about its resolution. As Jeter (and everyone else) said at the news conference in Tampa on Tuesday, it's hard to welcome Jeter back to the Yankees because he never left. This wasn't really a negotiation because the outcome was never in question; Jeter was going to be on the 2011 Yankees, one way or another. Whatever path the two sides took, the destination was the same.

That isn't the case with what is in front of the Yankees now. The Winter Meetings in Orlando have been filled with plenty of transactions so far, most of which are driving up prices on the free agent market. There is speculation that Cliff Lee will receive one, if not two, seven-year offers from interested teams and the Yankees reportedly are unwilling to go beyond six.

Suddenly, the foregone conclusion that was Lee to the Bronx is less so. And with that possibility lingering, GM Brian Cashman had dinner with Plan B, Carl Crawford, this week, opening a dialogue that could be necessary if Lee ends up in Texas or elsewhere.

So there is Lee. Crawford. A slew of relievers that could be bullpen targets plus potential interest in another catcher since Jorge Posada is now a full-time designated hitter (and, as much as the Yankees say they are going to give their young up-and-comers a chance to win the catching job, you never believe it with the Yankees until April).

It is a lot, a lot of moving pieces and parts, many of which may end up being as important (if not significantly more important) to the Yankees' success in 2011 than Jeter. As disappointing as Jeter was last season, he wasn't the reason the Yankees couldn't make it back to the World Series and his presence on next year's team won't be the main reason if they do return again.

Lee just might be. With Andy Pettitte's status up in the air and the volcano that is A.J. Burnett as unpredictable as it has been, pitching is the Yankees' top priority. They got Mariano Rivera signed, locked down the back of their bullpen for another two years. Those talks were handled quickly and quietly.

Jeter's, not so much. And while it may have been big news that the captain was "angry" about how that went down, the Yankees understandably took a more businesslike approach. They did what they had to do, got through something where everyone knew the ending right from the start.

Forget all the acrimony and back-and-forth and "baffling" comments that made the Jeter saga "a little messy," as Hal Steinbrenner might say. The best part about it is that it's over. Now the Yankees can get on to the part of their offseason that truly matters most.

Sam Borden is an award-winning columnist for LoHud.com and The Journal News and is a contributor to SNY.tv.
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