Yanks replaying 2003 Andy Pettitte negotiations with Rivera

The AFL's role in Major League Baseball
So long, and thanks for...not very much

When Andy Pettitte left New York after 2003, two schools of though prevailed. The first was that the Yankees didn’t make much of an effort to sign him to a contract extension during 2003 because they assumed he would never leave New York. The second was that Pettitte’s elbow, long a cause for concern, had pushed the Yankees beyond the point where they would consider signing Pettitte, but the team didn’t want to insult him by saying so.

Now, four years later, a similar negotiation – or lack thereof – is under way in the Bronx between the Yankees, but the stakes are bigger. The contract in question does not belong to Andy Pettitte but rather to Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ stalwart closer and future Hall of Famer.

Based on a few reports – such as this one from Bryan Hoch at MLB.com – Mariano Rivera claims that he will test free agency. But more damning is his indictment of the Yankees. Hoch writes:

Rivera said he was not sure if the Yankees were his first choice. He seemed stung by the fact that he and his agent, Fernando Cuza, campaigned the Yankees for a contract extension in Spring Training but were rebuffed. Now, Rivera said, the Yankees are just one of 30 teams who have a fair shot at his services for 2008 and probably 2009.

“I’m going to be open to hear all offers,” Rivera said. “The Yankees had their opportunity and didn’t do nothing with it. I’m going to wait.”

Now, while this may just be a negotiating tactic Rivera and Cuza are using to leverage the Yankees, it is more than a little disconcerting to hear Rivera issue such a statement. Again, the Yankees have backed themselves into a situation where they think they can easily re-sign Rivera and may end up losing out. A lot of competitive teams – the Phillies and Cubs come to mind – could use a reliever of Rivera’s caliber and could afford him too.

Furthremore, the Joe Torre job watch comes into play here too. According to reports from the clubhouse, Rivera said today that Joe’s return could affect where he ends up. In other words, if Torre comes back, Rivera may stay. If Torre goes, Rivera may at least test the free agency waters and give the Yankees and their fans a little scare.

We could debate for hours whether or not players should start dictating management and personnel issues to the media. But Joe Torre is a factor with Rivera, and his return is probably a factor in the Jorge Posada negotiations as well. Managerial loyalty is just life in baseball, and Rivera, who was entrusted by Joe to pitch high-leverage innings in 1996 after a disappointing 1995 rookie season, owes a lot to Torre.

I don’t know why the Yankees aren’t being more aggressive with Rivera. Despite his stellar numbers this year – 74 K and 12 BB in 71.1 IP – he wasn’t as dominant as he had been in the past. His location and velocity were off at numerous times during the season, and he didn’t seem to have it as often as he has in the past.

Maybe the Yankees are worried about the elbow that pushed Rivera out of service at the end of 2006. Maybe they see a reliever quietly losing his effectiveness. But no matter what, I think the Yankees need to re-sign Rivera. Unless they’re willing to move Joba into the closer role, Rivera should come back to the Yankees.

Their corps of potential closers – and there are a lot of them – are still a year or two away from the Bronx. By the time Rivera’s ready to retire, they should have an internal replacement or two waiting in the wings. But for now, the Yankees need the Sandman, and I would hate to see them blow these negotiations.

The AFL's role in Major League Baseball
So long, and thanks for...not very much
  • E-ROC

    I don’t think the Yankees blew by not signing during ST. He had elbow issues at the end of the ’06 season. They were making sure Rivera is healthy before they invested big money and years. Is that a bad thing? Is that disrespectful? Give me a break. He must not want to stay if he’s still pouting about the Yankees not giving him an extension 7 MONTHS ago! With that said, lol, I pray to GOD that the Yankees re-sign him.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Sadly, I can see Rivera leaving, moreso than I can see Posada leaving. I think it’ll be a surprise too, like we won’t hear anything for a few days/weeks, then all of a sudden the SportsCenter ticketer flashes “Breaking News: Cubs and Mo Rivera agree to a 3-yr, $40M deal” or something like that.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Know what Cash should do to motivate himself to resign Mo? He should lock himself in a room and listen to a recording of Bob Sheppard saying “Attention fans…now pitching…for the Yankees…number 48…Kyle Farnsworth” over and over again. Maybe that’ll beat the urgency of the situation into his brain.

  • kunaldo

    a lot of rivera’s “bad numbers” are a result of flukey bloops and whatnot, as well as a lack of work early in the season…for the most part, he was on point, and his velocity was where it has been for most of his career….i think he at least has 2 good years left in him, if not 3…..if they let him go, i dont think ill ever forgive them….yes, rivera has been paid for his work here, but he has additional value left, and there is STILL no one else i trust more in a big spot when we need an out(or 6)

  • marc

    Mo’s my favorite yankee but im really tired of the crap… he’s the most talented at his job that i’ve ever seen but hsi value was higher when he has more the reason why the yankees were great and with every passing year he becomes less the focal point. I love Mo, i have his 42 tatooed below my neck, but will any player just for once show some appreciation to an organization that ahs given them everything. Mo has given the yankees a ton but is it easy to forget the 70 mill hes gotten from them? the numerous post season oppurtunites to lay down his legacy? or us fans who would cry or grow ill to their stomachs at the thought of “Rivera, Cubs agree to 3/40”, what about us? Does he owe us nothing? Do any of them? I think they do and it makes me appreciate bernie that much more because he refused to go elsewhere.

  • marc

    If Mo’s tired of entering to enter sandman at yankee stadium in front us, they fuck it. let him go, we knwo he’s irreplaceable but so is what he’s been used to for his entire career, if a few mill on top of what he already has means that much then go, we’ll move on, and we won’t forget you but we’ll live on and we’ll make new memories. If thats how he wnats to be “respected” than go out that way or stop the bullshit and appreciate how good you have it when you have it.

  • kunaldo

    when you get down to it, baseball is a business, marc….yeah, the yankees have given him a lot, but rivera has given the yanks a lot as well….what it boils down to is that he’s becoming a free agent, and it’s his right to get as much money as he can, you know that what all of us would do if we were free to look for another job….

  • marc

    And for the record Mike, if you wanna feel better about the decision to let andy go… number 65 pitches for the yanks because andy went to the astros…

  • marc

    Yea its a business but we’ve seen guys take elss to stay where they want to be… tom brady gave up cash to open cap room for the pats… arod tried to lower his salary to be traded, moose def gave up cash last off season, smoltz has been doing it for year… the hometown discount… not associated with the yankees because players exploit the money that comes thru the yanks. the point is if these legends wanna leave us then do it because no one player is more important than this franchise… its let plenty of greats go later in their careers when their dominance left them… you wanna give posada 4-55? at 37 years old? not me… i’d love to throw rivera 2-35 and tell him thank you, you’ve been good to us. but i dont need a pitcher and catcher at 40 years old being a weakness we cant push away because of their legacies. how much longer can you avoid the unavoidable… a changing of the guard is going to happen soon, its the nature of the beast.

  • brxbmrs


    I’m in the same boat as you – he’s my favorite player of the last 30+ years.

    Yanks paid him 67 mil over his career and he’s earned every penny, but if he decides to go to the highest bidder, then we know that at this point in his life that was most improtant to him.

    He’s 38 (in November) and while I agree with kunaldo to a point – he declined a bit this year – and he’s not going to pitch forever.

    I think the Yanks bring both Jorge and Mo back and they pay them top $ – it would be too much a PR nightmare not too – especially if A-Rod goes.

  • yankz

    It doesn’t matter if Mo will decline. He will. But the Yankees absolutely need him back, because outside of him, KYLE FUCKING FARNSWORTH is the best reliever under contract next year (assuming Joba starts). Give him what he wants.

  • Evil Fox News Shill

    What I don’t understand is why there wouldn’t be “loyalty” to Don Mattingly, who has been called the manager-in-training for years now, and who is part of the Yankee fiber, or to Joe Girardi, with whom, not only did Mariano and Jorge play with, but who played an integral part of their early career.

    This all screams of tabloid fodder in places.

  • wayne’s world

    Making Joba the closer next year is not an option. Notwithstanding how outstanding he was in the tail end of this season, he has still not been tested enough to be comfortably placed in that spot. We need to see how he holds up over the long haul, what adjustments other teams make as they get to know him, etc. etc. The Yanks can’t rely on his presence as a factor in how they approach Rivera. If they lose Mo, they will need to sign another closer. So, unless there is one right for the picking, they have no option but to find a way to make it work with him. And they will.

  • Marc

    At scout.com and on espn radio, both nardi and cashman said joba’s role depends on whether rivera resigns.

    • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

      interesting. links for the story?

      and i agree with monkeypants below.

  • Needed to be Said

    i hate to say this, but Mo is being a bitch. that’s right, the immortal Mariano Rivera. who i have loved for a decade and is probably my favorite yankee of all time, is acting like a bitch.

    what everyone seems to overlook is that Mariano Rivera was under contract this year. a contract that pays him 6 figures PER INNING. and he is mad that the Yankees didn’t want to sign him a year before his contract was up? that’s bullsh*t. sorry. it needs to be said.

    Mariano Rivera has made more money than any other reliever in history. his “wounded soldier” routine is ridiculous and tacky.

    the Yankees will surely meet his price this winter, whatever he asks. all they wanted was to see if he was healthy, and now that he is, they will pay him a ton of money.

    if he wants to leave b/c he feels he was insulted this year, then maybe it’s time.

  • monkeypants


    Rivera was made the closer without being tested over the long haul–he was a set up man for one year.

    In any case, converted Joba to a closer or set up man, regardless of what Mo does, is stupid, stupid, stupid. Having a lock down reliever doesn’t mean squat if the starters can’t get the game into the late innings with a lead. Give me 150 to 200 INN of Joba as a starter, not 70 as a reliever.

  • Barry C

    He would be a fool to leave the pinstripes, there is more money to be made post career if he stays in pinstripes for his entire career. Do like Bernie did MO, look at the big picture, not just the next 3 years…

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