But now the audience can leave their seats satisfied, despite witnessing the very outcome that was expected all along: Jeter will continue wearing pinstripes for 2011 and beyond.
A source familiar with the negotiations has confirmed that the Yankees and Jeter have agreed to the framework of a new three-year contract worth a minimum of $51 million.
The deal has not been officially announced because Jeter must still pass a physical examination. The Yankees could announce Jeter's new contract this week during baseball's Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Jeter's pact will include deferred money and also has a creative option for the 2014 season, one that can increase to $8 million based upon Jeter's performance over the first three years.
The maximum amount Jeter could earn in the deal is $65 million. There is also a $3 million buyout for 2014.
At the same time the Yankees hammered out the Jeter deal, the team is also nearing completion on a new two-year, $30 million contract for closer Mariano Rivera to keep "Enter Sandman" blaring over the Yankee Stadium loudspeakers.
That pact also has not yet been finalized, contingent upon the 41-year-old closer passing a physical.
Rivera expressed confidence that he, too, will pass the finish line soon. Speaking at an appearance on Saturday in Rye Brook, N.Y., Rivera told reporters from The New York Daily News and Newsday of his negotiations: "I wanted it to go smooth, and that's exactly what happened."
The owner of an American League-record 559 saves and an all-time best 42 more in the postseason, Rivera told the reporters that this may be his final time signing a big league contract.
"That will be fine and I think maybe that might be the last two years," Rivera said.
More than a month after Alex Rodriguez looked at the final strike of the AL Championship Series against the Rangers, a deluge of spilled newspaper ink concerning the negotiations can finally set.
And once general manager Brian Cashman climbs down from the harness suspending him 22 stories above the Landmark Building in Stamford, Conn., on Sunday, the Yankees must renew their focus for the Winter Meetings.
Upon arrival at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, Cashman can now focus his efforts on their biggest target outside the organization, free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee. But they had to keep Jeter and Rivera in the fold first.
"We'd like to obviously have both of those guys back, no doubt about it, and try to find a way to improve the club at the same time," Cashman said on Friday.
Negotiations with Jeter made substantial progress late this week, following a stalemate and sharp words in the press between Cashman and Jeter's long-time representative, Casey Close.
New York had offered Jeter a three-year, $45 million pact, which Cashman defended as fair for the team captain, who is coming off a career-low .270 batting average and will turn 37 in June.
Jeter's request was said to be more in the arena of five or six years at an annual average value of $23 million, coming off the 10-year, $189 million deal that he just completed.
Knowing of a potential gap, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner agreed in a radio interview that the deal could get "messy." And Close was later quoted as being "baffled" by the Yankees' stance, invoking Jeter's status as the "modern-day Babe Ruth" when negotiations stalled.
That led Cashman to invite Jeter's camp to "test the market" to see if there was an offer out there he would prefer.
Cooler heads prevailed in a face-to-face sitdown in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, the first such meeting between the two sides in nearly a month. Steinbrenner and team president Randy Levine were also involved in that meeting.
The Yankees showed a willingness to improve their offer slightly, and Jeter's camp came down to find common ground in the middle, making the continuation of a productive relationship agreeable for both parties.
Rivera will receive a similar annual salary to the three-year, $45 million pact he just completed, ensuring that the pair of five-time World Series winners will be on the field in pinstripes on Opening Day.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.