Derek Jeter’s Retirement Plan

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Derek Jeter has officially announced his retirement from baseball. The 13-time All Star, 5-time World Series champion, and member of the 3,000-hit club revealed this week that the 2014 season will be his last.

After two decades in the sport, Jeter said via Facebook, "it's now time for something new," adding, "I have new dreams and aspirations…. There are many things I want to do in business and in philanthropic work."

The question on the minds of many New York Yankees fans is simple: What's Jeter's retirement plan?

Image via Keith Allison, Flickr.

Just as I explored Peyton Manning's post-NFL future last week, I foresee a few routes the superstar can take. Jeter has made more than $250 million in salary since his first full MLB season in 1996, and with over $9 million in annual endorsements, his total career earnings have likely eclipsed $350 million. Even if companies like Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) , Ford (NYSE: F  ) , and Avon (NYSE: AVP  ) continue to sponsor him in a limited fashion, it's clear Jeter likely doesn't need the money. When the average baseball player is four times as likely to go bankrupt than normal U.S. residents, Jeter has demonstrated the business savvy that should allow him to avoid this trap.

Derek the analyst
But that doesn't mean he wouldn't make a pretty penny pursuing other interests in retirement. One of the most obvious plays for Jeter would be to become an MLB analyst with a major network. Many ex-stars have followed this path, on Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) TBS, Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) ESPN, Fox (NASDAQ: FOX  ) and MLB Network.

MLB Players who Worked as
Color Commentators or Analysts in 2013
TBS (12) ESPN (10) MLB Network (6) Fox (2)
Adam Jones Aaron Boone Cliff Floyd Eric Karros
Bob Brenly Alex Cora Dan Plesac Tim McCarver
Buck Martinez Barry Larkin Eric Byrnes  
Cal Ripken Jr. Chris Singleton Harold Reynolds  
Dennis Eckersley Curt Schilling Kevin Millar  
Dirk Hayhurst Doug Glanville Mitch Williams  
Gary Sheffield John Kruk    
Joe Simpson Nomar Garciaparra    
John Smoltz Orel Hershiser    
Mark DeRosa Rick Sutcliffe    
Pedro Martinez      
Ron Darling      

Source: Media and company reports. Includes guest analysts.

In terms of sheer numbers, it's most probable Jeter would land as an analyst with TBS or ESPN, who employ the most ex-baseball athletes.

Annual salary depends on the total number of on-air appearances, but earnings for top analysts range between $500,000 and $2 million a year, according to SportsBusiness Daily. A part-time gig would likely pay much lower than this, and although it wouldn't come close to replacing Jeter's level of income on the diamond, he would follow in the footsteps of retired infielders like Nomar Garciaparra and Cal Ripken Jr.

Image via Keith Allison, Flickr. Cropped by author.

Derek the owner
Perhaps more likely, an MLB team's front office may also be in Jeter's future. ESPN's Andrew Marchand recently said that in 2007, Jeter told him he "wants to be a baseball owner," a sentiment New York Daily News has echoed. In an interview nearly four years ago, Jeter said, "The only interest I have in ownership is to be able to call the shots. I've said that time and time again."

Assuming he's spent about a third of his fortune, Jeter has at least $250 million in the bank, which would give him the option to buy a majority stake in a smaller franchise like the Tampa Bay Rays or the Kansas City Royals. Forbes estimates the average MLB team is worth nearly $750 million, so realistically, he'd have to join a larger ownership group. The Yankees, for example, are valued at $2.3 billion. 

The temperament required to be a sports executive should be no problem for Jeter. He's a natural leader, prides himself on integrity, and it's no secret he's one of the most competitive baseball players of his generation.

Derek the philanthropist
If not either of these options, what about charity work? Jeter's retirement letter specifically mentions philanthropy as an interest of his, and he's already set himself up to follow this path.

Jeter's partnership with Simon & Schuster is worth watching. The duo is starting Jeter Publishing, which, as Forbes points out, "will encompass adult non-fiction titles, children's picture books, middle grade fiction, and ready-to-read children's books."  

Last year, Jeter told The New York Times, "I think this sort of sets the blueprint for post-career…. This is a great way to start." The exact value of Jeter Publishing is unknown, but the impact it could have in New York, one of the biggest markets in the world, could be significant.

Jeter has also backed a start-up called Luvo, which sells healthy, pre-made food. In addition to his role as a shareholder, the star will reportedly serve as the company's brand development officer and "will also support … charitable endeavors … and offer counsel on other relationships that are developed in the sports and nutrition world," according to a press release.

The future
At the moment, one thing seems certain about Jeter's future: He will likely continue to pursue philanthropic work with his publishing company and Luvo. His interest in team ownership probably won't go away any time soon, but it remains to be seen if the superstar is willing to shell out millions of his own money to join a front office.

As Jeter is feeling out what he wants to do in retirement, I wouldn't be surprised if he took a part-time job as an analyst with TBS, ESPN, or another major network. There's been no talk of this route yet, but it would allow him to get a feel for sports media while thinking about how else he wants to remain involved in the MLB. 

The shortstop is at or near the top of most polls when it comes to fan favorites. Whatever he chooses to do next, much like his Yankee brethren Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, Jeter's name will continue to live on in baseball lore long after he hangs up his pinstripes. 

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Jake Mann

Jake Mann covers sports, economics and politics for the Motley Fool.

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