Jeter, in an interview for HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" that airs Tuesday, was asked if the team had that mindset after trading away its best players in the offseason.
"Tanking? What is ... tanking?" Jeter said.
When Gumbel defined tanking as "not trying your hardest to win ball games in ... every day."
Jeter, who smiled throughout the exchange, went on the offensive.
"We're trying to win ball games every day," Jeter said of the Marlins, who are off to a 5-15 start after trading away stars Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon during the offseason. "When you take the field, you have an opportunity to win each and every day. Each and every day.
"You never tell your team that they're expected to lose. Never."
As Bryant tried to interject, Jeter continued.
"Now, you can think ... Now, I can't tell how you think," Jeter said. "Like, I see your mind. I see that's how you think. I don't think like that. That's your mind working like that. ... You don't get it.
"You don't. We have two differend mi -- I can't wait to get you on the golf course, man. We got ... I mean, I can't wait for this one. ... You're mentally weak."
During the back and forth, as Gumble tried to ask Jeter if he really expects the Marlins to contend "as presently configured," Jeter used a different word.
"I expect this team to compete. To compete every sing ... You'd never tell your players that you are expected to lose. You don't do that. You should take that as a slap in the face as a player.You should take that as a slap in the face."
Jeter, who said he's "enjoying what he's doing" with the Marlins, was asked again if he expects the Marlins to contend.
"I do. I do," Jeter said. "If I don't believe with the ... in the players that we have on the field, who's going to believe in them?"
Gumbel then told Jeter that "it looks like you're delusional if you believe otherwise."
Said Jeter: "Well, call me delusional."