"I'm happy with the tenor of things. I think there's mutual respect on both sides and there's a lot of history there."
Steinbrenner would not hint at a timetable for the negotiations, despite the fact that multiple news outlets reported Thursday that the Yankees plan to make Jeter a three-year offer -- perhaps in the $45 million range, perhaps as soon as this week. All Steinbrenner would divulge is his hope that the Yankees ink Jeter to a new contract sooner rather than later.
"Look, we're talking," Steinbrenner said. "That's the important thing. We're airing each other out, and we're just going to continue doing that. We're working hard to get a deal done."
Jeter, who set career lows last year with a .270 average and a .340 on-base percentage, and who matched his career low with 10 home runs, will turn 37 next summer. Statistically, he is coming off the worst offensive season of his big league career. And though he won an American League Gold Glove Award at shortstop earlier this month, significant concerns also exist regarding his range and future at the position.
But Jeter nonetheless remains one of the most significant and beloved players in franchise history, as much an asset to the marketing department as to baseball operations. The vast majority of the team's fan base wants him back, a fact not lost on the club's front office.
"It's important what our fans think," Steinbrenner said. "But this is a private company, and we're going to keep negotiations a private thing."
Steinbrenner also noted that the status of closer Mariano Rivera is "the same deal," noting that those talks have not advanced particularly far.
"These are two great Yankees, we realize that," he said of Rivera and Jeter. "It makes it a bit different, but like I said two days ago, the process is still the same."
It's a process that could also grow lengthy. Even the New York Post, which suggested a contract offer could come as soon as this week, indicated that any offer may simply be the first in a potentially drawn-out process.
"Would I like to be relaxing Christmas Eve? Yes, I'd like to be relaxing Christmas Eve," Steinbrenner said. "But look, it will take as long as it takes. The important thing is we don't make it personal, because we have a lot of respect for each other, and we keep talking. That's the deal -- we've got to keep talking. And we will."