This is refreshing. Christian Red of the NY Daily News reports that Mariano Rivera and the Yankees have agreed in principle to a 2 year $30M contract. So I guess the Yankees can negotiate a contract without all of the drama…
Just yesterday, Rivera’s agent was quoted as saying the two parties were "a little far apart" on a deal. Now, all of the sudden they have a deal? What changed? Well, apparently, Rivera received a 3 year deal worth $17M per season from an unnamed team. The Yankees, unwilling to give up their ace in the hole, reacted, and gave Rivera a deal he found acceptable.*
* Personally, I don’t believe any closer is worth $15M per season (let alone one that’s 41 years old), but I’d make an exception for Rivera. The man is an absolute machine, and has shown few signs of decline. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him dominating hitters with his cutter when he’s 45.
So who was the unnamed team? Well, if you believe Jon Heyman, it may have been the Red Sox. If this is true, I kind of like the move. Unlike with Dan Shaughnessy’s asinine recommendation to offer Derek Jeter a contract, the Red Sox actually have a need for Rivera. Jonathan Papelbon has struggled over the past two years, and seems to be in some sort of decline. While it’s certainly possible he could rediscover his dominance in 2011, it’s far from a sure thing. Signing Rivera would’ve not only stabilized the bullpen, but also made non-tendering Papelbon (and his $11.5M arbitration request) a lot easier to swallow. Teaming up with set-up man Daniel Bard, the two would’ve created one of the most feared 1-2 punches in the history of baseball bullpens.
Alas, that’s not going to happen, and that’s ok. The Red Sox still have a formidable 1-2 punch in Papelbon and Bard, which should still strike some fear into lineups throughout baseball. Either way, this should be seen as a moral victory for the Red Sox front office. While they didn’t meet their goal of stealing Rivera away, they did get the Yankees to increase their contract offer for a 41 year old relief pitcher. That’s half of the battle right there.