For Derek and Mo, it’s a matter of leverage

Thanksgiving Open Thread
Explaining the Yankees behavior towards Jeter

Two Yankee greats approaching the latter years of their careers are free agents this year, and the Yankees would love to keep them around. Both of them want to be rewarded for their contributions to a rich and storied franchise. Mariano Rivera wants two years at $18 million per while Derek Jeter wants a negotiation that isn’t “baffling” and something more than three years at $15 million per. One of these future Hall of Famers have leverage; the other does not.

Jeter, as we’ve explored lately, is the one without the leverage. The Yankees, wary of his age and declining numbers, have offered him a three-year, $45-million contract, and although he wants more, he has no bargaining chips. The Mets, a potential landing spot with Jose Reyes seemingly on the block, are not interested, and George A. King III reported yesterday that few other teams are either.

According to King’s sources, Jeter isn’t drawing any other interest at his asking price. Most GMs recognize that Jeter wants to stay a Yankee and that the Yankees want Jeter to stay, and thus, no one is going to get into the bargains only with the intention of driving up Jeter’s price. “What he needs to happen, and it won’t, is for Boston to get in it to amp up the price,” one of King’s sources said. “But that’s not going to happen because he is an icon. And if they did that, Theo and Cashman would go to blows. There is nobody to drive the price up.”

While one of King’s AL sources says that the Orioles, Nationals, Cardinals or Giants “might” interest in Jeter, Derek’s return to New York is a matter of “when” and not “if.” Jeter and the Yanks will have to work this one out between themselves without the threat of another team. That is not what the Yanks are facing with Rivera.

So far, all we know about the Rivera negotiations are his demands. He wants two years at $18 million per, a figure that would make him the fifth — or sixth, once Cliff Lee signs — highest paid pitcher in baseball. That total would represent a raise of $3 million over his 2010 salary and would set the market for closers going forward. The Yankees have yet to respond to Rivera’s demands, but as Mark Feinsand reported yesterday, Mo would have suitors lining up for him if he can’t reach a deal with the Yankees.

“Jeter may not have many teams looking to pay him millions, but Rivera certainly will,” one of Feinsand’s sources said. “He’s still one of the best – if not the best – closers in the game.”

Unlike Jeter, Mariano’s numbers haven’t shown an obvious decline. His strike out totals dipped by nearly 3 Ks per 9 IP in 2010, but he notched 33 saves with a 1.80 ERA. He has been very public in his desires to reach 600 saves and could do so as a Yankee or not. With Rafael Soriano the only other big-name closer out there, teams looking for relief options would flock to Rivera.

And so the Yankees are in a bind. They don’t want to spend more than they have to on either player. If Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenners had their druthers, Jeter would sign the deal offered to him and Rivera would take a one- or two-year contract at $15 million a year. But leverage is a tricky thing, and somehow they have to come to terms with one player who has it and one who doesn’t. A funny thing might happen on the way to Opening Day: Because of leverage, Mariano Rivera just might end up making more than Derek Jeter next year.

Thanksgiving Open Thread
Explaining the Yankees behavior towards Jeter
  • nathan

    While I dont expect Mo to bolt, this is where offering him arb would have helped. When it comes to Mo v Soriano on the open market the signing team need not sacrifice picks for Mo. I never envision Mo for another team but they missed the boat by not offering arb to Mo. This way even if he had accepted it would have been one year only.

  • Hughesus Christo

    Who is going to pay Rivera 18 million a year for 2 years? No one. It’s really not all that different.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Considering how much Soriano’s going to make, you could easily see some other team paying Rivera two years at $15 million per. No one’s going to meet or exceed the Yanks’ offer to Jeter. That’s leverage for Mo.

      • Hughesus Christo

        15 isn’t 18, and I don’t even see that being a possibility. Short of someone being dumb enough to take KRod and eat virtually all of his salary, there are no suitors at that level of cash. This sounds like Rivera’s agent working the media.

        • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

          Orioles – They’ll either use Gonzo or resign Uehara.
          Red Sox – Already have their $10 million man.
          Yankees – Hey, they could use a closer.
          Rays – Can’t afford it.
          Blue Jays – Potential Suitor, but Anthopoulos won’t consider it.

          White Sox – Another year of Jenks, also have Thornton.
          Indians – Can’t afford it. Rebuilding and looking to dump salary.
          Tigers – Tied up with Benoit and Valverde.
          Royals- Already have Soria.
          Twins – Tied up with Capps and Nathan, also have Neshek.

          Angels – Looking to improve elsewhere. Have Rodney.
          Athletics – Can’t afford it. Bailey is their closer.
          Mariners – Probably can’t afford it. Already have Aardsma
          Rangers – Pursueing Lee. Feliz is their man.

          Braves – Potential Suitor, will use Venters instead.
          Marlins – Can’t afford it. Have Nunez.
          Mets – aren’t spending this off season. Have BB-Rod already.
          Phillies – Can’t afford to keep Werth. Have Lidge.
          Nationals – Looking to improve elsewhere. Will use Storen.

          Cubs – Potential Suitor. Many bad contracts. Have Marmol (ridic K/9!)
          Reds – Need to extend Votto and Bruce. Tied up with Cordero.
          Astros – Will use Lyon or Lindstrom. Dumping salary.
          Brewers – Looking to improve rotation. Might resign Hoffman or use Axford.
          Pirates – Mo laughs
          Cardinals – Need to extend Pujols. Will use Franklin.

          Diamondbacks – Potential Suitor. Towers might also look at Wood.
          Rockies – Will use Street unless he gets injured again.
          Dodgers – No money with McCourt divorce. Tied up with Broxton.
          Padres – Will use Bell. Looking to dump salary.
          Giants – Have Brian Wilson. Need to extend rotation and looking for offense.

    • nathan

      Do you know how much Krod is making? There will be someone. Heck in this case Boston makes sense too (after trading Papelbum). We can easily find 5 teams that can sign Mo.

      Maybe the Angels.

      • Hughesus Christo

        There are 8 teams with payrolls over 100 million, so we’re talking about 8 that could theoretically contribute less than 15% of total payroll to a closer. The Cubs, Tigers, Red Sox and Phillies have absolutely no motivation to enter the “discussion” considering current construction.

        Mets? Who is taking KRod?

        Angels? They’re going to prioritize giving a 41 year old closer 15+ million a year over everyday players they have been linked to for years? Unlikely.

        The only team that makes even an iota of sense is the White Sox.

  • IE

    First off, how many teams can even afford to pay any closer, let alone, Mariano, his current $15 million salary? Aside from the Yanks, there’s Boston (which has Papelbon and Bard), the Cubs (not interested), the Phillies (who could use Mariano but will spend their money elsewhere), the Mets (who won’t win enough to need a closer) and perhaps Anaheim (but they will spend their money this off-season on Carl Crawford). As far as I’m concerned, Mariano doesn’t have much leverage either and certainly should not fetch $18 million from the Yanks. As with Jeter, he should be told to test the open market himself if he thinks another team is out there with a better deal than $15 million.

  • Hughesus Christo

    The way I see it, Rivera wants two years so his people tossed out a ridiculous salary figure as a tool to be used in negotiations. Then they can “compromise” to 2/28-32

    • Hughesus Christo

      And the doesn’t actually need to be another suitor to make this happen. This is being done for the same reason why the Yankees put on a media blitz for 3/45.

    • Ed

      That’s exactly what it is. That’s how it goes with every good free agent. It amazes me how people see it happen every offseason, yet are surprised by it each time.

      Mo knows the Yankees would rather do a one year deal, so he asked for both a raise and multiple years. That way he can cave on one or the other as he sees fit.

  • Jerome S

    I don’t think that Rivera will set the closers market. GM’s will probably say “hey you’re good, but he was way, way better.” Or some BS.

  • AndrewYF

    Any chance Boston offers Rivera $20M a year? I know their whole modus operandi is to not care about what the Yankees do, but damn that would really stick it to them.

    • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

      Any chance Boston offers Rivera $20M a year?


    • bexarama

      Not with the Papelbon situation.

    • seimiya

      Not with Papelbon holding up their money and Bard actually not shitty. They have both halves of an expensive closer!

  • nsalem

    I don’t think the Yankee’s are anywhere near in a bind. Before the ink dried on A-Rod’s contract 3 years ago, they knew this day was coming
    They knew it might get ugly for awhile, they knew it would be resolved,
    they knew it would be written off as the cost of doing business and they knew that winning baseball would be the cure to any bad feelings
    that developed as the result of their actions
    These kinds of incidents were going on a hundred years ago and will be going on a hundred years from now. The Yankees labeled Babe Ruth as fat and drunk to not pay him in the twenties. DiMaggio crime was youth and arrogance in the thirties. Koufax and Drysdale were communists in 1966. Dick Young ran Tom Seaver out of town in 1977.
    This commonly happens with the games elite.
    Since it is in the best interests of all parties for Jeter and Mo
    to remain Yankees it will in all likelihood come to pass.
    In the event it does not end that way the Yankees have the resources
    (money and bodies) to remain at the top.

  • CarlPavano

    Fire Cashman!!!

  • YanksFan77

    I would say Rivera has less leverage than you would think, considering Rafael Soriano is a free agent and is younger. If Rivera walks, then the Yanks start bidding on Soriano.

    Whose the next best SS on the open market? Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria?

  • larryf

    My lineup for next year since i would not pay Jeter 17-19 million a year for one year let alone 3 or 4.

    Gardy RF
    Crawford LF
    Tex 1B
    ARod 3B
    Cano 2b
    Swish DH
    Grandy CF
    Montero C
    Nunez SS

    Sign Lee and Mariano and get on with it.

    Bench: Posada/Cervelli/Pena/Golson and any other 2 bargains of your choosing

    I would love Crawford at YS and how does 47SB’s each for your first two batters sound? Crawford has never won a WS so there is some motivation for him as there was for Tex and ARod despite the big money. I am not afraid of Nunez batting 9th and playing SS. He adds range and speed and is cheap and might (God forbid!) actually improve his stats batting 9th with no pressure and at all of 23 years old.

    • Sal

      @ larryf… 3 LHH outfielders? So your gonna sit $13M worth of DH on the bench, and reduce $9M a yr Swisher to DH, all while paying Crawford Beltran money and Yr’s ? hmmm

      • larryf

        Well Crawford hits .307 with >600 plate appearances, Posada’s $13M is a farce going into his age 40 year and the OF I propose is better than the one with Swisher out there. Crawford is 29 years old.

        Yes I am.

        Don’t play players for the stupid money you have committed to them Play the best team you can afford and just win.

        • larryf

          Also, Posada will catch some and help Montero to pay for his 13 million which he is not worth-next year.

          • larryf

            Oh yes, Carl stole 6 in one game and 60 in 2009. 7th in the MVP vote this year and hit into 2dp’s! i think I want THAT 3rd lefty in my outfield. I move my pile of Jeter money over to Carl.

            Big CC and little CC. Me like.

            • BC-203

              IMO, you left out one more trade — Swisher. If they sign Crawford, Swisher is out. Poasada/Montero would DH and Swisher would be the odd man out. He is tradeable at his salary and with what they get om him.

              That said, Jeter is going to resign so this is partially a mute point. You could argue trading Swisher and signing Crawford, but honestly, Crawford wants way to many years beyond his prime locked in and will actually get it from someone. Just don’t let it be the Yanks PLEASE! Not to mention, you’d still have to let another salary go to even afford him (and keep the payroll the same as they want). The only option I see is not signing Andy and going with Lee/CC/Hughes/AJ/Nova — excellent rotation, but then no depth for injuries.

              Bottom line is Jeter will be a Yankee and Crawford is going to get some ridiculous deal elsewhere — they will enjoy the deal for the first half and hate every year after that…

    • JerseyDutch

      We don’t need Crawford.

  • Sal

    Good Morning Yankee Fans, Ben can you drop us the link that mentioned Jeter saying he wanted more than what the Yankees have offered? I haven’t been able to locate any articles, just rumors and Close saying he was baffled. Thanks

  • Sal

    So Jeter is good enough to play for 3 yr’s @ 15M per but not @ $17-$19M. Why, is the team strapped financially to the point where they can’t afford an extra $2 to $4M a yr on a guy who pays for himself? I could see if you wanted to upgrade at SS with Han-Ram or Alexei Ramirez maybe you can trade for Bartlett or Scutaro in case Nunez slips a bit, in fact lets get Jeter off the team completely. How many articles are the beat writers gonna produce when Jeter starts to chase down # 3000? Probably be a buzz at the Stadium for a while also, remember the buzz around Jeter and the most hits for a Yankee drama, something nobody outside of NY cared about,I bet getting #3000 trumps that.

    • V


    • Teh Comp Pick

      It is going to be a circus, but whats the point your trying to make at the end there?

    • OldYanksFan

      At 3/$45m, we are already overpaying him… so WHY overpay him more? What does that achieve? And should we overpay Mo by $6m jus cause we have the money? And based on that, when Cano’s contract is up, should we overpay him by 3 or 4 mil/yr… ya know… jus cause we can?

      Do YOU like paying a lot more for things then they are worth?

  • Brad

    Grammar correction:

    “One of these future Hall of Famers HAS leverage; the other does not.”

    “no one is going to get into the BARGAINING only with the intention of driving up Jeter’s price.”

    BTW–I am surprised by the comment…I would think that the Red Sox would show interest if only to drive up the price.

    • JerseyDutch

      BTW–I am surprised by the comment…I would think that the Red Sox would show interest if only to drive up the price.

      Only works if Cashman thought they were serious, which they obviously wouldn’t be.

  • JerseyDutch

    If Mo won’t budget off 2/36, you have to consider offering Wood the job at 11-12 per.

    • mac1

      Nah, if the Yanks can justify a second year on Mo, a few mil extra shouldn’t be an impediment.

      Wood as great as he was for the Yanks, isn’t what Mo is and his health should preclude him from getting more than a 1 year deal at that kind of $.

      I don’t want to see the Yanks have to give Mo 2/$32 but I think that would be worth the “gamble” if they can’t get him off a 2 year deal.

      • JerseyDutch

        I wouldn’t be against 2/32 for Mo. I’d rather overpay for him than for Jeter.

  • LunaticFringe

    Rivera wasn’t the best closer in baseball last year…or even close to it. I don’t see the case for a raise, he’s already the highest paid closer…by a bunch.

    I must be missing a key point here (nothing unusual there), but I don’t see any “market” for Mo at his, rumoured, price point.

    Don’t see the leverage.

    • mac1

      I think Mo was close to the top again – look at his WHIP vs. Soria – its real close. They use Mo less, like they should, and yeah, he makes a ton to pitch 65 or so innings in the regular season, but to worry about a few mil more when he is still highly effective doesn’t make sense to me.

      The real issue is when Mo goes south is he just going to implode.

      Mo’s consistency and really dominance and efficiency in closing out most games still has him among the top 3 in baseball – and its year in year out (so far).

      I also don’t think another team will pay Mo 15+ mil a year, but its more w\in the realm of possibility than with Jeter. He’s still Mo and most times he closes down games clean and quick – for a contending team he’s a big plus.

      I’d also hate to see the Yanks pay most of that money (on an annual basis) to another top closer and risk that he won’t be as effective – JMO.

  • SodaPopinski

    Mo is good.

    • mac1

      Yeah, that’s what I was trying to say!

  • LnnM360

    wow, i dont even know what to say bout his demands.well if this doesnt end up good, im putting mi vote on orlando cabrera where ever he is. dont care about derek ”winning comes first” jeter anymore.

  • Gonzo

    Should have offered Mo arb and let him find a sap to pay 2/36.

  • HeavyHitter

    Give me Mo.