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. 


63 Responses to Free Agent Stock Watch: Mariano Rivera Leave a Reply

  1. start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

    You forgot to add under the good:
    Prayed to by younger relievers as major deity of closing.

    • Infield Fly 5 years ago

      “Prayed to by younger relievers as major deity of closing.”

      And by fans!

      • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

        and by Girardi.

        • and by those who cannot finish their burritos at taco bell.

          • I’m pretty sure Joe Torre would agree with you all.

            I do too, and as a Yanker hater from birth, I have to say that Rivera’s asking price is pretty cheap. Unlike the “Ultimate Team Player” who’s also looking to re-sign with the Yankers

  2. PookieGonzales 5 years ago

    I think they should just cough up the dough for him at this point. He really Hasn’t regressed like Jeter. And his demands arn’t THAT high.

    • $18 to

    • I think part of the issue is that he wants a raise. Has he improved to warrant it? Or at least warrant it in such a way that it overwhelms concerns regarding his age?

  3. Why is there even a write up for this

    • vtadave 5 years ago

      …because it’s a topic worthy of discussion?

    • Fangaffes 5 years ago

      Because the Yankees declined arbitration, so any team to have him without giving up anything, if they pony up the money/years.

  4. flickadave 5 years ago

    The Red Sox should offer 3 years @ $25m per and see what happens. Talk about a quick way to shore up the ‘pen. Doubt Mo would take it but it would be interesting to see…

    • jwsox 5 years ago

      why would they do that when they are thinking about non tendering pap because of the money he might get…there is no way MO get a 75 mill deal from anyone…let alone in his real prime

      • flickadave 5 years ago

        Just because then you would have Bard, Papelbon, Rivera for the end of games. Besides, it would be fun to see the Yankees with a new closer (Joba?) It would be interesting to see how many +wins that would add to the Sox record and how many – it would be to the Yanks. I’m not saying it stands a chance of actually happening but it would be fun to see. I picked 3/$25 per because I don’t think Mo would leave the Yankees for just a million or 2 extra.

        • hrbomber1113 5 years ago

          when you factor everything in, they would probably be a worse team since they wouldn’t be able to resign beltre and a FA OF. adding a closer, no matter how amazing, can’t possible add up to an elite 3B/OF.

          • flickadave 5 years ago

            Yeah, and Cashman would probably pull out his wallet and buy the best FA or 3 to fill some of the void. It was just fun to think about the Yankees having to run someone out there in the 9th that isn’t as dependable as Mo has been over the years. He really is amazing.

      • They’re thinking of non-tendering Pap because he isn’t WORTH the money he’ll get.

    • strikethree 5 years ago

      I’m not sure any reliever would be worth 25 mil per season.

      Rivera is worth more to the Yankees than he is to any other team.

      Relief pitchers are supplements; they can’t win games by themselves. They make good teams great but they won’t necessary boost a team that doesn’t have much offense or starting pitching. The job of closers and relief pitchers is to CLOSE games but you have to have the lead first. What good is a bullpen if you’re always down 2+ runs a game?

      This is why I always face palm every time a bad or mediocre team drafts or signs FA relief pitchers to expensive multi-year deals.

      The thing with the Yankees is that they are pretty much set in every position. Every team has holes but the overall Yankee pitching and offense is solid. The Red Sox are better off using that money for finding a 3rd basemen and/or a back up plan for catcher.

      • “Rivera is worth more to the Yankees than he is to any other team.”

        People love to say that, yet fail miserably to explain that.

        The Yanks won the wild card by six games. Mo’s 2010 WAR was 3, so even without Mo, the Yanks make the post season, host games, make more money yadayadayada. So theoretically at least, the Yanks don’t NEED Mo to have a shot at the title.

        Arguably, Mo would have been worth more to a team like the Padres. Those three wins would have meant that they beat out the eventual Champion Giants for the NL West. Once in the post season with the quality of pitching they have, who knows what could have happened?

        In summary, Mo is worth LESS to the Yanks than he is to other teams because they can get into October strictly on the merits of their lineup, their starting pitching, and the presence of the Wild Card in an AL that usually consists of them, the Sox, and everyone else.

        • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

          Dude your literal interpretation of WAR sickens me. Consider WAR as a numeric way of giving you an impression of how important a player is/isn’t at his position and not a literal evaluation of their worth. W/o being able to close games out in the 9th or, in some cases like the playoffs, 1 or 2 outs in the 8th AND the 9th, then Yanks aren’t as succesful. Mo is worth more to the Yanks than any other team because of what he does in the regular season and more importantly the battle tested nerves he shows in the playoffs and how he continues to deliver.

          0.71 ERA/0.76 WHIP and he’s allowed more HBP (3) in 139 IP than he’s allowed HRS (2). That’s freekish.

        • strikethree 5 years ago

          “People love to say that, yet fail miserably to explain that.”

          Because it’s self explanatory – really, it’s not that difficult to understand. The man is a Yankee legend and one of the best relievers in the history of baseball. In terms of off-the-field baseball value AND on-the-field wins value, Rivera is worth more to the Yankees.

          Why? Well, if I must expose what should be so simple to comprehend…

          Relievers, over a course of a season, aren’t worth many wins. However, they can be worth a lot during individual games and short series like postseason series.

          Your whole argument is flawed. You don’t determine how much a player gets for a season AFTER a season is played – you sign before he pitches. Yes, the Yankees were ahead of the Red Sox in 2010 — AFTER THE FACT. However, before the season began, we knew the division had 3 legitimate contenders for a MAX of two playoff spots. In fact, had the Red Sox not had so many injuries it probably would have been much closer than you think.

          “Arguably, Mo would have been worth more to a team like the Padres. Those three wins would have meant that they beat out the eventual Champion Giants for the NL West. ”

          Again, after the fact. It’s called selection bias. Who actually projected the Padres as a legitimate contender for 2010? You? I doubt it.

          Also, the Padres have a pretty darn good closer in Heath Bell. Ever heard of him? With Rivera AND Bell on the same team, the combined WAR score goes down because the replacement level is set higher. Either Rivera or Bell would work in less leveraged situations, therefore being worth a lot less.

          “In summary, Mo is worth LESS to the Yanks than he is to other teams because they can get into October strictly on the merits of their lineup, their starting pitching, and the presence of the Wild Card in an AL that usually consists of them, the Sox, and everyone else.”

          Here is where your whole premise collapses: You talk about 2010 and use hindsight to base your arguments but leave out the Tampa Bay Rays WHO ACTUALLY WON THE AL EAST. Wow.

          Yes, before the 2009 season, it was basically a battle between 2 teams. However, there are now 3 legitimate playoff contenders. The Rays are still a force to be reckoned with even if they might not be in a few years or so. You still need to factor that into your analysis.

          You weren’t wrong in saying that teams in tighter divisions value each WAR value more than other teams. However, you failed to factor in:
          a) The AL East being occupied by THREE teams that are playoff contenders (going into the season; not just based on hindsight)
          b) Rivera, like all closers, is worth most during the actual playoffs (during individual games and short series) Therefore, he is worth more to the Yankees because they go to the playoffs more often than any other team. The Padres is not that kind of team.

          Lastly, you concede that the Yankees are set in almost every aspect of the game. Therefore, they don’t have anywhere else to upgrade. The Yankees are perhaps he only team in baseball where that is the case. Your example, the Padres, have A LOT of places where they can improve upon. Closers are luxury items. Why pay top dollar for a closer who pitches 60-70 innings a year over an upgrade at a position player?

          Your treatment of WAR is grossly over-simplistic. WAR is used as a quick and general guide to player effectiveness compared to other players during that season. You shouldn’t base your analysis strictly on WAR numbers alone.

  5. InLeylandWeTrust 5 years ago

    Hopefull when Mo retires, he goes out on top. It would be a pretty sad to see what is happening to Hoffman happen to the great Mariano.

    • Jason_F 5 years ago

      Hoffman may have struggled early in the season, but from June 3 on, he had the following numbers: 2.67 ERA, .575 OPS against, 20K/9BB in 30.1 innings. Not too shabby. He may not get a closer’s job next year, but he’ll get a job. Weren’t the Padres interested in bringing him back?

  6. moonraker45 5 years ago

    Texas will sign him for 2/36 as he’s been asking for….then move him to the rotation.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      Priceless, simply an outstanding piece by the one and only, Wally Moonraker.

    • vtadave 5 years ago

      Then they will turn around and sign Jeter to a 7-year $214 million deal to DH.

  7. Jon 5 years ago

    Give him what he wants. Sign him up. Bing. Bang. Boom.

  8. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    I would gladly offer Mo 2/$30 and $3 mil bonus for his 600th save. That freezes his salary @ $15 mil per for luxury tax reasons and gives him an easy obtainable bonus which will , at the end of the contract, be equal to a 1 year salary of $15 mil and a 1 year salary of $18. That Team Jeter would be what is known as a compromise.

    • Fever Pitch Guy 5 years ago

      While you would offer Mo that bonus, the Yankees are not allowed to do so. The CBA (collective bargaining agreement) clearly stipulates performance bonuses can be based only on innings pitched, appearances, games played, etc and not wins or saves or strikeouts or homeruns or RBI etc.

      You’ll note ARod’s contract includes an additional $6M each for hitting homerun #660, #714, #755, tying the MLB career homerun record and breaking it. They are not “bonuses”, they are part of a MARKETING AGREEMENT – big difference, and most importantly the MARKETING AGREEMENT is what allows the additional money earned by ARod to be excluded from luxury tax payroll.

      So if you want to give Mo an additional $3M for his 600th save, you’ll have to do it as a MARKETING AGREEMENT because you cannot do it as a “bonus”.

      • Redbirds16 5 years ago

        So what you’re saying is there’s an incredibly simple solution. Very astute young padawan.

        Next problem: TSA.

      • Redbirds16 5 years ago

        So what you’re saying is there’s an incredibly simple solution. Very astute young padawan.

        Next problem: TSA.

      • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

        THanks. Actually that’s what I meant. Same as Arod’s deal for hr milestones.

      • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

        THanks. Actually that’s what I meant. Same as Arod’s deal for hr milestones.

      • 0bsessions 5 years ago

        You can offer incentives based on games finished, which tends to be par for the course with relievers.

    • Fever Pitch Guy 5 years ago

      While you would offer Mo that bonus, the Yankees are not allowed to do so. The CBA (collective bargaining agreement) clearly stipulates performance bonuses can be based only on innings pitched, appearances, games played, etc and not wins or saves or strikeouts or homeruns or RBI etc.

      You’ll note ARod’s contract includes an additional $6M each for hitting homerun #660, #714, #755, tying the MLB career homerun record and breaking it. They are not “bonuses”, they are part of a MARKETING AGREEMENT – big difference, and most importantly the MARKETING AGREEMENT is what allows the additional money earned by ARod to be excluded from luxury tax payroll.

      So if you want to give Mo an additional $3M for his 600th save, you’ll have to do it as a MARKETING AGREEMENT because you cannot do it as a “bonus”.

  9. yeah GOAT’s don’t really become free agents and change teams for the first time at age 41.

  10. I applaud Rivera’s agent, Fernando Cuza, for handling the contract situation quietly unlike Casey Close. I would venture to say that a deal is probably in place yet hasn’t been announced pending Jeter’s eventual signing. I say screw it and make it official. A Mariano Rivera press conference (sans The Captain) will only further apply pressure on Jeter’s camp.

    • Linutor 5 years ago

      Unlike Casey Close? The Yankees have done most of the yapping in the Jeter situation. I hardly think it’s fair to blame Close for just occasionally standing up for his client…

      • We truly don’t know who had started all this mudslinging first. I’m one of many that is very surprised that all of this has spilled on to the mass media. I’m not taking sides. At the end of day, it’s all business and I’m sure all of the public statements we’ve read thus far have been contemplated and deliberate.

        • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

          “I’m one of many that is very surprised that all of this has spilled on to the mass media.”

          Team with massive payroll that already over paid star shortstop once + star player who has been referred to more than once as “face of baseball” + happening in one of the world’s largest media cities.

          I’ll let you do the math.

          • Redbirds16 5 years ago

            = General indifference outside of NYC.

            Jeter will be sign with the Yanks. Foregone conclusion.

            Next problem: Car Whistles.

          • Redbirds16 5 years ago

            = General indifference outside of NYC.

            Jeter will be sign with the Yanks. Foregone conclusion.

            Next problem: Car Whistles.

        • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

          “I’m one of many that is very surprised that all of this has spilled on to the mass media.”

          Team with massive payroll that already over paid star shortstop once + star player who has been referred to more than once as “face of baseball” + happening in one of the world’s largest media cities.

          I’ll let you do the math.

      • We truly don’t know who had started all this mudslinging first. I’m one of many that is very surprised that all of this has spilled on to the mass media. I’m not taking sides. At the end of day, it’s all business and I’m sure all of the public statements we’ve read thus far have been contemplated and deliberate.

    • Linutor 5 years ago

      Unlike Casey Close? The Yankees have done most of the yapping in the Jeter situation. I hardly think it’s fair to blame Close for just occasionally standing up for his client…

    • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

      Actually it was Close that started. All that was said initially from the Yanks was bu Hal who said “Jeter negotiations could get messy”. At that time no offers were made and nothing had been said. Then it came out from the mlb office that the Yanks offered 3/$45. Then Close made the comment he was “baffled” by the Yanks offer and so on and so on.

      Madden made a great point to. It’s easy for offers made by the team to become public knowledge because I guess they have to notify the mlb office and from there things get leaked. However, agents and players DON’T have to notify anyone other than the team what their demands are so from Cashman’s stance the public knew he offerd 3/$45 but when Close says he’s “baffled” but no one knows he’s asking for 6 year and $24 mil it’s easy to look like the good guy.

  11. InvalidUserID 5 years ago

    I find it troubling that Rivera is asking for a bump from $15M to $18M but hey, can’t argue with his stats. I would have no problem with him coming back to his previous $15M but why $18M?

  12. ludafish 5 years ago

    Is there really any negative to Mo? Im not a Yankee fan by any means, but he is just impressive. He only throws like 91 now and he still gets outs all day long. I have no doubt he will dominate again in 11, and do well in 12. Do the Yankees have any other choice or anyone waiting in the wings? No, just people they can spend money on, so why not spend it on Mo?

    • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

      Just his age. But considering he was still a top 5 closer in baseball last season, I’m willing to bet he’ll still be a top closer for the next couple of seasons.

      • Fever Pitch Guy 5 years ago

        I agree, Mo still has a lot of spit left in him. heheheheh

      • Fever Pitch Guy 5 years ago

        I agree, Mo still has a lot of spit left in him. heheheheh

    • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

      Just his age. But considering he was still a top 5 closer in baseball last season, I’m willing to bet he’ll still be a top closer for the next couple of seasons.

    • Despite his strikeout ratio being down to 6.75/9IP from his career norm of 8.23/9, Mo still has his pinpoint control and ability to keep the ball in the yard. All his other peripheral stats look fine.

      • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

        Yeah is FB velocity was still decent around 91-93 mph and the cutter is more about movement anyway. The cutter sits around 90-91.

      • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

        Yeah is FB velocity was still decent around 91-93 mph and the cutter is more about movement anyway. The cutter sits around 90-91.

    • Despite his strikeout ratio being down to 6.75/9IP from his career norm of 8.23/9, Mo still has his pinpoint control and ability to keep the ball in the yard. All his other peripheral stats look fine.

    • Fangaffes 5 years ago

      One more positive. Mo is far and away the classiest guy on the team.

  13. Zuidvogels 5 years ago

    Mo for 2 more years in NY. Then goes and pitches in the NL league until he is 50 😀

  14. you’re really going to bicker about 3 million dollars with the best closer in baseball history?

  15. you’re really going to bicker about 3 million dollars with the best closer in baseball history?

  16. theyankeefanatic 5 years ago

    it may sound crazy…but i think this should be the year the Yanks play hardball with eveybody and give everyone just enough to reel them in…Mo Rivera’s time will come and having him for extreme dollars and multiple years could be devastating…especially if other aging players suffer injury or major decline…they should offer him 1 year 15 mill with incentives that could take him to 20 mill and a mutual option for the 2nd year with the same deal…with a buyout for 3 mill so no matter what he makes his 18 mill…i wonder would any team beat that offer…the most important thing for the Yanks is to not give him 2 years unless they can come down on his salary significantly…like 2 yrs. 12 mill a year….because despite Mo’s greatness teams are unlikely to put that much money into a reliever…even Mo Rivera.

  17. Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

    except Kubel

  18. Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

    close enough.

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