Both Pettitte and Rivera are free agents, both are on the wrong side of 40, and both have either already been retired, and openly considered it. Still, in the case with these two, the Yankees are still a much more formidable team if the pair of veteran hurlers are on the roster.
George King III of the New York Post explained that the Yankees have yet to make an offer to either pitcher and said they hadn’t made an offer to catcher Russell Martin or any other free agent, either. Well, obviously they made an offer to Kuroda, who was a free agent, in order to sign him. Saying they haven’t made an offer to anyone else is probably playing a game of semantics. Has there been an official offer sheet given to the representatives of Pettitte or Rivera? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any kind of financial discussions. Remember, Torii Hunter met with the Tigers in person last week, then left town ”without an offer.” The next day a contract was in place between the he and Detroit.
Just as they did with Pettitte a year ago and, to a lesser extend, with Derek Jeter when his last contract ended, the Yankees are in a position where they are the only team negotiating with these players. In each case, if they want to continue their careers, it will be done in New York or nowhere. GM Brian Cashman then must bargain not only based upon the expected contribution levels of well-past-their-prime superstars, but negotiate exactly how much past championships are worth in 2013.
Pettitte came out of retirement to re-join the Yankees last season and did so on a $2.5 million deal. Given the success he had in an injury-shortened 2012, Pettitte could certainly command a higher salary this time around. He hasn’t officially notified the Yankees that he intends to pitch next season, but Jon Heyman says they expect he will and Pettitte will likely tell them by early next week.
The Yankees not only got by after Rivera went down with injury last season, they flourished. Once Rafael Soriano was given the job, he dominated hitters in a manner similar to what Rivera has done in his career. Well, that’s not really fair. Soriano was outstanding last season, saving 42 games and pitching to a 2.26 ERA. The last time Rivera had an ERA that high? 2007. In fact, Rivera’s career ERA is a mere 2.21 and that career spans 18 seasons and over 1000 appearances.
So not only can we reasonably expect Rivera to be better than Soriano or any other closer in baseball next season, even at age 43 and even coming off knee surgery, but we can expect that he’ll settle for a contract that pays him less than the $14 million Soriano was set to make (and opted out of) in 2013.
Regardless of whether or not the Yankees have made any official offers, rest assured both sides have a good idea of where the other stands. No doubt Cashman would like to get these deal wrapped up before the Winter Meetings begin in early December. The Yankees still have a handful of holes to fill and it sounds like Cashman may have a real budget to stay within this year. It will be interesting to see how he handles that.