Free Agent Stock Watch: Mariano Rivera

It's not often that a free agent class offers not just one, but two first-ballot Hall of Fame relievers, yet that's exactly the situation we're in this offseason. Let's review the stock of the great Mariano Rivera

The Good

  • Rivera remains the master at limiting base runners, holding opponents to a .181/.211/.266 batting line with just 25 unintentional walks over the last three seasons. His WHIP during that time is a microscopic 0.797.
  • His postseason track record is unmatched in terms of both quantity and quality. His 139.2 playoff innings feature a 0.71 ERA and 0.766 WHIP, and it's been ten years since someone took him deep in the postseason.
  • Although he's a Type-A free agent, the Yankees did not offer Rivera arbitration, so it would not cost a draft pick to sign him. 

The Bad

  • Rivera will turn 41 years old on Monday, and just three men in baseball history (Dennis Eckersley, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Trevor Hoffman) have recorded a 20-save season at that age or older.
  • He's two years removed from offseason shoulder surgery and has dealt with a nagging side injury since the 2009 playoffs.
  • The velocity of his legendary cutter is gradually declining, and his 6.8 K/9 in 2010 is his second lowest strikeout rate since 1998.

The Verdict

Rivera is a free agent in name only, as just about everyone expects him to re-sign with the Yankees at some point. Even so, he's reportedly seeking a two-year deal worth $18MM a season, a price very few teams can match. The Yanks understandably want to limit a contract to one season, but there's no reason to expect Mo to wear anything but Yankee pinstripes in 2011.