2010 will see three prominent Yankees enter the last year of their contracts. Mariano Rivera, Joe Girardi and Derek Jeter all will enter the last year of their contracts. We figure Rivera and Girardi will probably get similar contracts to what they have now, and while I could go on about how much Mo and Joe are worth, this post is about the Captain.

Jeter is going into the last year of a 10-year, $189 million contract and by the virtue of his offense, and average-defense and his overall leadership skills, he has earned every penny. By the time a new contract is offered to Jeter, he will be 36 and the Yankees will have to pay him what he’s worth, not what he is valued at.

Today’s Post features a story by Joel Sherman about Jeter. After the 2007 season, Brian Cashman took Jeter out for dinner and gave him something to think about. He said to the Captain that his defense had to improve. Jeter, prideful of his abilities, took that to heart and did something about it. He worked on it in the offseason. This past season was probably his best defensively.

Which means a good thing for the Yankees. They have a legitimate shortstop who earned a Gold Glove last season. The bad thing is that they still have a shortstop. Jeter could have made a move to a DH or a outfield position, but that will probably not happen for as long as he wears pinstripes.

Sherman goes on to compare what Jeter could get close to what A-Rod’s current contract is. Does Jeter demand a contract until he is 42? Sherman predicts a 4-year contract in the $100 million range. I don’t think he’s far off.

Benjamin Kabak at RAB uses Fangraphs and CHONE projections to project what Jeter could be worth the next few years.

According to Fangraphs, he was worth $23.2 million in 2006, $15.5 million in 2007, $16.6 million in 2008 and a whopping $33.4 million in 2009 for a four-year total of $88.7 million. Since he, like the rest of us, isn’t getting any younger, I doubt he can duplicate even that four-year total, and, for example, his CHONE prediction pegs him at $15.4 for 2010.

Because of who he is, the Yankees will tread carefully, respect his privacy, and pay him every penny he is worth, even though it may be a ridiculously overpriced contract. It’ll be because of who he is — the Captain.