Thursday: Ken Davidoff adds some more details to the story today, by contrasting Rivera with Derek Jeter’s negotiations after the 2010 season. Davidoff points out that, unlike Jeter, Rivera is no stranger to working out a new contract and has always been shrewd when it comes to his own machinations in free agency (indeed, when you really think about it, the contrast between Rivera happily fielding an offer from the Red Sox for leverage and Jeter being upset at being told to see what the market held for him two years ago is incredibly striking). In other words, he’s dialing back the notion that Rivera will be offended by the Yankees offering him a pay cut, recognizing that business is business. That seems reasonable to me, especially because I think that Rivera is going to end up earning something in the range of his customary $15 million salary one way or another next year. If there’s any sort of back and forth, it’ll likely be about how much of that is guaranteed and how much will be in the form of incentives that a healthy Mo should have no trouble reaching.
Mariano Rivera might be committed to pitching in 2013, but first he’ll have to get a new contract. You would think that wouldn’t be such a tough proposition, but Rivera actually has a history of being a pretty tough-nosed negotiator, and this promises to be the most difficult new contract of his career. After all, though it was already hard to figure out what to bet on the seemingly ageless closer, he’s now a ripe old 43 years of age and he’ll be coming off of a major knee injury that cost him nearly all of the 2012 season.
To that end, the Yankees are preparing to make Rivera an offer for next season that would reduce the $15 million salary he earned in 2012, Bob Klapsich reports today. Klapsich doesn’t put a number on the cut, however, and adds that Rivera would likely get a package of incentives that would give him the chance to push his earnings back to his customary level. I would imagine that this is mostly much ado about nothing, as even if Rivera isn’t happy about the base salary, he’s going to be earning roughly in the ballpark of $15 million one way or another if he’s healthy and effective. The one thing that could potentially make things interesting is if another team comes along and offers that to him in the form of guaranteed money. Not that anyone can see Mo playing anywhere but The Bronx, but Rivera has never been shy about playing the field for leverage in negotiations, even reportedly fielding offers from the Red Sox the last time he was on the market after the 2010 season. If that were to happen, however, the Yankees would almost certainly match any offer Rivera gets, at least for the 2013 season.