One day we’ll be able to say that legendary closer Mariano Rivera has taken the mound for the last time. That day is not coming prior to the 2013 season, however, as the 42-year-old saves leader has informed Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman he intends to return for another season in the Bronx.
Although team and player will have to iron out a new contract, the negotiations shouldn’t be much of a sticking point. Rivera, he of the 608 career saves, has spent his entire 18-year career with the Yankees, and he isn’t going to come back and pitch what may well be his final season for a different organization over a disagreement on finances. The two sides will hammer something out rather painlessly, and The Sandman will once again close out games for the Yankees in 2013.
Based on what we saw in Rivera’s brief work in 2012 before he succumbed to a season ending injury, he’s still a very nasty pitcher, and provided his health does not fail him, it’s hard to imagine he won’t earn whatever dollar amount the organization assigns him. Rivera has been worth nearly 40.0 WAR in his career per FanGraphs, an incredible amount for someone who’s only pitched a little over 1,200 innings, an amount that would be just six full seasons for a starter.
Although the sample size was small last season, Mo’s peripherals were right in line with his career norms, and it’s never smart to bet against the effectiveness of his famed cutter, even if he will be 43 before Opening Day 2013. Rivera’s return also gives the Yankees peace of mind for their closer position; this is especially valuable considering last year’s replacement, Rafael Soriano, recently elected to opt out of his own contract and test the free agent market.