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
  • Jersey Joe

    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.

  • LK

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

    • Magilla Gorilla Mama Called me Roy tho

      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?

      • Laz

        As far as I know Hafner is going to be the regular DH. Probably mix Rivera in vs LHP.

  • jjyank

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

  • trr

    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…

  • Tim

    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


      • Ted Nelson

        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

          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

            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

          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

            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

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

              • Ted Nelson

                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


                  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

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

        • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula

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

          • Ted Nelson

            Good for you. Predicting anything good will happen to the Yankees seems to be wildly optimistic in your view.

    • MannyGeee

      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.

  • Jersey Joe

    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


      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

        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

          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

      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.

      • Jersey Joe

        Leverage I guess. Applies to each comment to my comment

        • Havok9120

          Seems as though the Yankees would have LESS of that if the guy is on a tear, not more.

          • Captain’s Gift Basket

            Yep, if what you want is to cut costs, don’t let the player have the leverage. Wheter you’re in june or december is not that important.

    • Sterling Archer

      Kind of a weird suggestion but here goes.

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


  • Gonzo

    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

      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

      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.

  • Tim

    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

      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.”

  • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Drew

    The original Melky Cabrera is back!

  • dasani

    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.

    • LightSABR


  • KennyH123

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

  • Celerino Sanchez

    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!

    • Havok9120

      Good to see someone was in line to break up the string of positive comments about a good signing.

      It was starting to get out of hand.

      • Ted Nelson

        Come on, we all know that they need to spend at least $20 million per bench spot.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      The rule of anyone including Celerino’s name in the their tag is that the comment will usually suck.

      • iRememberCelerinoSanchez

        As the original Celerino Sanchez guy, I object!

        I think the Celerino Sanchez taking my name is trolling. The TV deal comment is just silly.

        • http://aol amanda

          celerino sanchez and his rifle arm passed away :(

  • Celerino Sanchez

    Maybe give Mo Vaughn or Jose Canseco a shot.

    • Havok9120

      Can they catch?

  • Yankeefan

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

    • LightSABR

      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.

  • Tim

    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.

  • Celerino Sanchez

    Or even me – I played Third.

  • Tim

    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.

  • Blake

    Who is gonna DH vs RHP

    • MannyGeee


      Sign a LH outfielder.

      “We need RH BATTERZ!!!!”

      Sign some RH batters.

      “We need more LH BATTERZ!”

  • dkidd

    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

  • UpState

    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 ?

    • Steve

      I think that’s Ruben

      • Joel

        Most definitely that was Ruben. UpState, do you suppose the Yankees would have brought back a player that did that? Use your noggin, and maybe google, too.

        • Chris in Durham

          I bet Michael Kay doesn’t make that mistake! ;)

          Seriously, I hope he makes the club just so I can eventually see a Kay / Rivera exchange.

  • Vern Sneaker

    Getting him into the camp competition makes tons of sense.

  • Greg

    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.

    • MannyGeee

      Signed, Marcus Thames in 2010, Andruw Jones in 2011, and Raul Ibanez in 2012.

      • LitFig

        It’s as if these “fans” don’t watch ACTUAL Yankee games.

  • Vern Sneaker

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

  • PFOJ

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

    • Vern Sneaker

      That’s a joke, right? Wrong Rivera.

      • Captain’s Gift Basket

        Yep i think that was Mo’s cousin, Ruben.

  • UpState

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

    • Captain’s Gift Basket

      That was Ruben Rivera, Mariano’s cousin.

    • Ted Nelson

      Wrong guy

    • Havok9120

      No matter how many times you try to make the joke, you’ll still have the wrong guy.

      • Steve (different one)

        But the joke is funny because Michael Kay made this mistake on air and railed on Juan for an inning.

        That’s the joke.

        • Havok9120

          Ahhhh. That makes more sense then.

          • MannyGeee

            That’s because Kay is an idiot.

            • Herby

              don’t insult idiots

  • UpState


  • Steve (different one)

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

    • RetroRob

      Javy’s available, too.

  • Get Phelps Up

    Oh, I missed the fun…

  • RetroRob


    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.

  • Captain’s Gift Basket

    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.

    • Havok9120

      Holy cow. That’s….wow.

      • Captain’s Gift Basket

        Yep, it’s because, aparently, over there they care about production and not about walks, or something like that.

    • dasani

      I heard they’re trying to lure Kevin Brown out of retirement

    • Get Phelps Up

      And Cliff Lee sheds a tear.

      • MannyGeee


    • Ralph Melish

      This is why Ruben Amaro Jr. is a genius, hoss. Wait a minute! Didn’t Amaro steal Jeter’s glove a few years ago?

  • Robinson Tilapia

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

  • mrdbag

    Who fucking cares another nobody

    • MannyGeee

      Says a bigger nobody.

    • Get Phelps Up

      You care enough to bother making a comment here.

    • Ralph Melish

      Some douchebag will probably comment on it.

  • Flyer7

    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

  • Nathan

    This scrap heap stuff is getting old.

    • DC

      New to baseball? It happens every year with every team.

      • RetroRob

        …and the teams expecting to contend do it even more because they plan for injuries and depth.

  • http://aol amanda

    could of had shelly duncan eh

  • Jim Cavanaugh

    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.

    • mustang


      agree 100%

  • Jimmy McNulty

    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.

  • trr

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