Our rivals/enemies/counterparts 210 miles to the South came out with their own bit of news on the heels of CC Sabathia’s poor 2 inning performance today (who cares if it’s spring stats, it’s still fun to say!).

jeterortizWith the contracts of future Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera in their final year this season, there’s been much talk about what kinds of contracts the Yankees should extend to two icons that have been with the franchise for close to 15 years. Let’s take a snapshot of both players from the point they signed their 2001 contracts.

Derek Jeter has averaged 18.9 million per year during his 10 year contract, reaching as high as 21 million this year. Since 2002, he’s been worth 40.1 Wins Above Replacement, averaging about 132.2 million dollars of market value. During that same time period, Jeter has been paid 157 million dollars. While it’s not the return on investment you should see from a player who never officially reached free agency, it’s a testament to what Jeter has been able to accomplish over the years, as the odds normally say a large long term contract like this usually follow the path the Cubs are enduring with Soriano.

Mariano Rivera, by comparison, has averaged 10.5 million per year over this same 10 year span, plateauing at 15 million from 2008 through 2010–the largest contract ever given to a relief pitcher. Since 2002, Rivera’s been worth 19.4 Wins Above Replacement, averaging about 77.3 million dollars of market value. During that same time period, Rivera has been paid over 86 million dollars. With the ridiculous contracts some relief pitchers have been receiving, the return on investment the Yankees received from Rivera is astonishing. I’ll fully admit I’m the first person to yell and scream about how relievers aren’t worth the money they receive in recent years, but I still have appreciation for how well Cashman orchestrated these two deals, especially Rivera’s.

Now, after the brief history lesson, we come to the big question. With both of these Yankee icons running out of time at the fountain of youth, should the Yankees continue to dole out a premium contract for both of them for the sake of keeping them in pinstripes?

Rivera hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down. His 2009 was his worst year since 2002, but still worth two wins. Derek Jeter had a defensive renaissance and a park-aided power surge, but most projection systems still only peg him for a 3.5 WAR season, on par with his 2007 and 2008 seasons.

Lets say the Yankees expectedly roll out a 4/80 or 4/100 deal for Jeter, and another 15 millon annual contract for Rivera. Let’s also say both players expectedly regress towards the mean and decline with age normally. Would the wasted money be made up in pleasing the fan base for holding onto both players? Would not filling their spots with better or younger talent be the right move for the club?

How does this pertain to the Red Sox? The player who arguably carried playoff success on his shoulder during two early October mornings is up for renewal after 2010, and Ortiz’ 2009 season wasn’t one to write home about.

Do you think large market teams owe their fan bases these “thank you” contracts? Should money subsequently be wasted in order to force less turnover of marquee players? Or is this something only leveraged through the ultra spending power of the Yankees, as our own General Manager jettisoned the greatest modern day pitcher once his health deteriorated. Is the a scenario where smart business takes a backseat to your 8 year old baseball self actually good for baseball in general?

While we all enjoy seeing the Yankees fail (well, I do), they could establish an interesting precedent with Jeter and Rivera’s impending contracts. How do you think situations like these should be handled?