Yesterday, there were some grumbles about Mariano Rivera retiring this offseason. This comes after he stated, “I’m coming back. Put it down. Write it down in big letters. I ain’t going down like this.” There’s been some time in between these two statements, but more than likely, the mention of retirement is nothing more than his last hope at leverage when it comes time to negotiate.
Will Rivera go to another team? It’s doubtful, especially as he’s trying to come back and retire on good terms with his lifelong Yankee fans. The only way to earn any sort of contract leverage here is to threaten not playing at all, to make up a little white lie and say that he’s changed his mind about playing in 2013. You can’t blame him. He’s one of the best closers available on the free agent market, and the greatest of all time, yet he has very little bargaining power when it comes to the Yankees.
He’s coming off an injury, he’s obviously not going to another team, he’ll be 43 years old, and the Yankees already have David Robertson and potentially Rafael Soriano to close next season. We would all love Rivera back, but Soriano’s success in the 2012 season taught us that he isn’t as important as we once thought. So now that we’ve hit the offseason, the free agent is using the media to try and get the money that he deserves. Coming off a $15 million salary in 2012, the closer may be expecting another one year deal on that same amount. That’s at least a likely starting point from his side.
Meanwhile, the Yankees will be looking at something lower than what a top closer coming off injury would normal receive. Joe Nathan is a decent example, he’s a guy who had 6 consecutive seasons with a 1.87 ERA and a WHIP below 1. A year after Tommy John Surgery, at 36 years old, he pitched to a 4.84 ERA with his final season on the Twins. In 2012, he received a two year $14.5 million contract with a 3rd year team option. In Nathan’s contract, his annual average salary was $7 million. Rivera will be 6 years older than Nathan, and he hasn’t returned to the mound yet to prove he can still pitch. You’re going to have to lower the annual salary down to around $5 million, and that will probably be the starting point for the Yankees in negotiations.
Personally, I think they’ll find a common ground around an $8 million one year deal. I’d like to know what TYA thinks. Should he receive more based on who he is and his previous performance, or less based on his injuries or age?