Yankees sign Juan Rivera to minor league deal

Juan Rivera-001

(Harry How/Getty)

February 5th: Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal say the contract is worth $1.2M guaranteed if Rivera makes the team, with another $800k available in incentives. I guess that’s the going rate for mediocre right-handed hitting outfielders these days — Diaz’s contract has the exact same terms.

January 28th: The Yankees have added another player to their inevitable right-handed outfield bat competition in Spring Training. Andrew Marchand and Wally Matthews report New York has signed former Yankee Juan Rivera to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp. No word on the money, but I’m guessing it’s in the low seven-figures if he makes the team. Chances are he can ask for his release if he doesn’t make the club rather than report to Triple-A.

“Obviously, he’ll compete for that vacancy for the right-handed hitting outfielder,” said Brian Cashman to Anthony McCarron. “He played for (High-A Tampa manager Luis Sojo) in Venezuela and Sojo said he was playing well and in good shape. We’ll see what he can do.”

Rivera, 34, originally signed with the Yankees as a 17-year-old out of Venezuela back in 1997. He spent parts of three seasons in the Bronx before being traded to the Expos as part of the package for Javy Vazquez during the 2003-2004 offseason. Rivera spent just one year with the Expos before being traded to the Angels for Jose Guillen. He’s played for the Blue Jays and Dodgers most recently.

A career .274/.323/.443 (102 wRC+) hitter, Rivera owns a .286/.333/.489 (115 wRC+) career line against southpaws. Over the last three seasons those wRC+ numbers are 92 and 109, respectively. As I wrote earlier this month, Rivera does a swell job of getting the bat on the ball (12.9 K% and 84.2% contact rate since 2010) and he’ll even take the occasional walk (7.1 BB%). He will not, however, play anything more than passable defense in the outfield corners or at first base. Speed and stolen bases aren’t happening either.

Rivera joins fellow scrap heap pickups Matt Diaz (minor league deal) and Russ Canzler (waiver claim) as right-handed bats with a chance to make the team out of Spring Training. Internal options like Melky Mesa and Ronnie Mustelier should not be ruled out either. The Yankees recently signed Dan Johnson to a minor league deal, and I suppose any of these guys is a candidate for the DH role as well. That position as well as bench help will be the priorities in the coming weeks.

Categories : Transactions


  1. Jersey Joe says:

    This was definitely a no-brainer on MiLB deal. Good competition for Matt Diaz, really excited to see a bounce back year from maybe one of them.

  2. LK says:

    Solid move, one of these guys should be able to be serviceable.

    • Magilla Gorilla Mama Called me Roy tho says:

      The DH should be the best hitting position on a team. Here, the team can sign a player for his hitting ability and not worry about the drawbacks of him playing the field. So why do you want Juan Rivera as your DH?

  3. jjyank says:

    I like it. Wasn’t very good last year, but he put up a 122 wRC+ against lefties in 2011. Worth a shot.

  4. trr says:

    MiLB deal, no problem with this at all, wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the Big Club before the end of the season…

  5. Tim says:

    No matter how much Mike Axisa tries to poo-poo every Yankee move moving forward and tries to fill this blog with his depression about how terrible the Yankees are going to be this upcoming season, this to me was one of the best signing so far of the winter after all of their free agents and Youkilis were re-signed. He was a guy that I thought that they should have signed the last 2-3 seasons. He’s not Mickey Mantle but it’s a very solid signing. Barring an injury or he totally craps out in ST, he’s your RH DH, 4th, 5th OF, a possible full-time DH, although he may share it with a Dan Johnson or another LH power hitter that they get off of the scrap heap. Good signing imho, no matter what Mike thinks.

    • Havok9120 says:


      • Ted Nelson says:

        Mike has been pretty overtly pessimistic this off-season, in my opinion. But memory tells me that’s the same most off-seasons.

        • Captain's Gift Basket says:

          Not triying to fight or anything, but IMO, if there was an offseason in the las 15 years to be pessimistic, is this one.

          I’d still bet they make the playoffs BTW.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Mike was really pessimistic two years ago, when they went on to win 97 games. All “Freddy Garcia sucks” all off-season. Starts to lack credibility when it’s mostly bitching about mostly marginal concerns all the time.

        • Havok9120 says:

          I won’t argue with that. But he wasn’t in this post. And, in fact, he hasn’t been critical of ANY of the scrap heap/interchangeable part signings that I can recall.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Not particularly. The “inevitable right-handed outfield bat competition” comes across a bit negative after the bitch-fest of an off-season on this site. Which, as I said, is what I remember happening every off-season.

            My point was just that I am also pretty tired of Mike’s whining. This is a strong roster, and a FO with a strong track-record (especially for finding undervalued vets). Everything is not perfect, but relative to the rest of the league they’re in a good position. Mike has basically predicted bad case scenarios for all their acquisitions. Hasn’t done much to highlight the potential upsides. Hasn’t done much to highlight the downsides of the players they lost or didn’t acquire. Again, my memory is that this happens every off-season.

            • don't let the door hit ya says:

              Considering Mike is such a big part of this site why are you still here?

              • Ted Nelson says:

                Disagreeing with one aspect of something doesn’t mean you hate the whole thing. Just like fans can disagree with something the Yankees do (or in the case of a lot of commenters, just about everything they do), and that doesn’t mean they hate the Yankees.

                • Laz says:


                  They also have a pretty good roster. It’s not a 100 win team, but they will be in the race, and they are still a hell of a lot better than the sox.

        • hogsmog says:

          Memory tells me that Mike has never criticized a minor league deal, basically ever.

        • Andy Pettitte's Fibula says:

          IMO, Mike has been pretty realistic this offseason. I think prior to this offseason, he tended to be on the optimistic side.

    • MannyGeee says:

      Hate to be the dick here, but what part of Mikes post was negative? Was it “scrap heap” that butt-hurt you on this?

      I am not seeing it.

  6. Jersey Joe says:

    Kind of a weird suggestion but here goes.

    For the 2014 season, we are going to need cheap players to fill every hole.

    So, if we see a streak from a player in May/June, would it make sense to resign them for 1 year at a similar contract?

    This could include Rivera, Diaz, Johnson, etc. all players who could help out next year with the budget in the way.

    For instance, if by AS Break, Rivera somehow is hitting .285 with 7 HR and 30 RBI and a .340 OBP, could we resign him for like a 1 year 900k contract?

    Just thinking of ways to cut costs.

    • Havok9120 says:


      I mean, we could do that. I’m not sure I see a ton of benefit to it though. A guy streaking for half a season who then falls off a cliff won’t have improved his FA stock much if at all and could be resigned in the offseason.

      They’d effectively be resigning these guys at their peak value.

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        And, alternatively, if the guy feels he can keep it up all season, why would he want to sign cheaply for the next season? He’ll want to play out his current contract in the hops of signing a better one the following off-season.

        • Captain's Gift Basket says:

          Totally. If the player does that you just move on in order to find your Juan Rivera (or somebody) of 2013, for 2014.

    • Captain's Gift Basket says:

      Why not just wait until the season comes to and end, and see if those guys still on their feet, or aren’t suspended and stuff like that? Plus see what happened with Andruw jones this past year, 2011 was good, seemed like he was a no brainer for another shot and he just couldn’t hit in 2012 like he did the year before.

      There´s no need for that IMO, in 2014 you’ll find your 2013 Juanes Riveras and your Matt Diazes and Dan Jhonsonses.

    • Sterling Archer says:

      Kind of a weird suggestion but here goes.

      For the 2014 season, we are going to need cheap players to fill every hole.


  7. Gonzo says:

    I know these guys are professionals, but what do you think is going on in their minds when all these guys are competing for one spot?

    Which brings me to my next business venture. I will start selling voodoo dolls in Tampa very soon. All proceeds will go to Mons Venus and Bern’s.

    • Havok9120 says:

      At least some of them will enjoy the competition once it’s pressed upon them. I can’t imagine any of them would rather be competing for a job than have one guaranteed though.

    • MannyGeee says:

      What goes through their minds?

      “If I don’t hit this a fucking mile, I might not eat this summer”. That’s what I am banking on.

  8. Tim says:

    He had a 3.5 WAR in 2009. His defense is probably crap, but he can hit LH’s and be as serviceable as Ibanez was in the field last season. I expect an Andrew Jones of a couple of years ago type season maybe better. Hopefully a change of scenery rejuvenates him, but all in all a good signing, esp on a MILB contract.

    • Captain's Gift Basket says:

      Not sayin’ this is a bad deal or something, but you do realize that that 3.5 season was 4 years ago, right?

      I also don’t think we should expect anything close to a “an Andrew Jones of a couple of years ago type season maybe better.”

  9. Drew says:

    The original Melky Cabrera is back!

  10. dasani says:

    Of all the right bats left on the market he was the best option. It sure is alot better than the thought of having to trade for Vernon Wells.

  11. KennyH123 says:

    Solid signing. .285 career vs. lefties, with power…. bad in the OF these days, but thats ok. Ibanez was horrific.

  12. Celerino Sanchez says:

    Great to see that the team with the second most lucrative TV deal in MLB is looking to fill the roster using the “if you throw enough shit on the wall maybe some will stick” method. Sheesh!

  13. Celerino Sanchez says:

    Maybe give Mo Vaughn or Jose Canseco a shot.

  14. Yankeefan says:

    you no its bad when im exited for juan rivera signing :p

    • LightSABR says:

      Yeah. Good move, but my beef with ownership remains: this is not a fun time to be a Yankees fan. Here’s hoping they outperform expectations.

  15. Tim says:

    Hopefully he makes sure that there’s nothing that he can trip over and rupture his knees in LF of Yankee Stadium if he makes it to the Bronx this season. Remember that happening to Juan back in the day and Steinbrenner coming down hard on the stadium staff member that was responsible for Juan being put on the DL for a few months because of it.

  16. Celerino Sanchez says:

    Or even me – I played Third.

  17. Tim says:

    I hate the Yankees’ austerity measures as much as anyone, but he in effect is replacing Andrew Jones. If we get an Andrew Jones type season out of him (pre 2012 Andrew Jones), then it’s a good signing.

  18. Blake says:

    Who is gonna DH vs RHP

  19. dkidd says:

    good signing. he’s my pick to be last man standing

    we’re heading into the home stretch

    super bowl
    SI swimsuit issue
    march madness

    god damn am i ready for baseball

  20. UpState says:

    This Juan Rivera clown…

    …is he the same buffoon that stole Jeter’s glove, spikes, & socks out of his locker back in his first stint with the Yankees ?

  21. Vern Sneaker says:

    Getting him into the camp competition makes tons of sense.

  22. Greg says:

    I’ve had the “pleasure” of seeing Juan play for the Dodgers and Angels over the lasdt couple of years. He is DONE. If this is the best we can do, then we have bigger problems.

  23. Vern Sneaker says:

    Still hoping that the contact fairy sprinkled something on Mesa, though. Such good tools, so many Ks.

  24. PFOJ says:

    Michael Kay can’t believe they’d bring back this noted glove thief.

  25. UpState says:

    …is he bring back the glove, shoes & socks ?

  26. UpState says:


  27. Steve (different one) says:

    All we need is to pick up Randy Choate next winter and the circle of Javy Vazquez is complete.

  28. Get Phelps Up says:

    Oh, I missed the fun…

  29. RetroRob says:


    My guess is Diaz will win the competition among this group as long as his hand is healthy. A big if…

    I suppose it’s possible two from this group make the club, with one serving as the RH’d DH, and the other the RH’d OF bat. Haven’t really looked at the likely roster to see if two can fit.

  30. Captain's Gift Basket says:

    The Yankees could be doing worse, see;

    By fangraphs,

    A year ago, Michael Young was worth -1.4 WAR. He’s going to be a starter for the Phillies.

    A year ago, Ryan Howard was worth -1.0 WAR. He’s going to be a starter for the Phillies.

    A year ago, Delolmon Young was worth -0.7 WAR. He’s supposedly going to be a starter for the Phillies.

    A year ago, Chone Figgins was worth -1.0 WAR. By reports, the Phillies are the last team to have expressed some interest.

    A year ago, Joe Mather was worth -1.5 WAR. He’ll be in Phillies camp on a minor-league deal.

    A year ago, Yuniesky Betancourt (!) was worth -0.8 WAR. He’ll be in Phillies camp on a minor-league deal.

  31. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Solid MiLB signing. If this is the way you’re going to go, I guess this is the way to do it.

  32. mrdbag says:

    Who fucking cares another nobody

  33. Flyer7 says:

    Good signing…starting 3 OFs plus Diaz and Rivera, 4 starting infielders plus Nix and Johnson…two catchers, 12 pitchers…no Nunez, goes in spring deal for a catcher or prospects

  34. Nathan says:

    This scrap heap stuff is getting old.

  35. amanda says:

    could of had shelly duncan eh

  36. Jim Cavanaugh says:

    While this is clearly awesome news, the best story of the day was Nick Johnson retiring, therefore msking it impossible for Cashman to bring him back for a Bronx Trilogy.

  37. Jimmy McNulty says:

    I actually really like this move. I’m pretty sure he’ll blow but right now this is the best move that could be made.

  38. trr says:

    I still think he’ll be on the big club this year

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