The beauty of the Hot Stove season is the way things can change in a heartbeat. In a matter of hours from publishing a post suggesting the New York Yankees were being held up by Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera in the free agent market, the team was confirming the lefty’s desire to return and rumor has it that they are closing in on a deal with the all-time saves leader.
Various reports surfaced throughout the day yesterday beginning with this tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney about Pettitte’s return.
Sources: Andy Pettitte is close to formally announcing he’s coming back, and he’s close to finishing a new deal with the Yankees.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 27, 2012
As the day went on more news became available and as each beat reporter and baseball insider revealed their pieces we were left with Pettitte’s return is imminent and according to New York Post reporter Joel Sherman the deal will be one-year in the $10-11 million range.
Without trying to beat a dead horse, this is exactly what the Yankees are looking for this offseason — one-year deals which will allow them to try and drop their payroll low enough to stay under the competitive balance threshold in 2014. The deal could be settled by Thursday according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.
While Pettitte’s return has now been confirmed, we’ve known the same about Rivera’s desire to pitch in 2013 for well over a month now. Rumor has it that the Yankees are working on a one-year deal with Rivera for a base salary in the neighborhood of $11 million likely laden with incentives. Rivera earned $15 million in 2012, a year in which he appeared in nine games after tearing his ACL in May. The Yankees never had any intention of matching that number and Rivera has probably asked for at least that much, using his incredible tenure with the team as his ploy. Most likely if there are incentives they will drive the total salary close to the $15 million mark. If Rivera reaches incentive metrics it means he and the Yankees are having a very good season and the costs are rewarded. If he gets hurt or is just not the same pitcher, they save themselves $4 million which has become a large amount of money for the Yankees these days. Once again, the key here is that the Bombers are only locked in for one more season, which is a duel desire for both parties.
Martin using leverage wisely
When a player is among just a few solid options in a thin market for a premium position, the best thing to do is ask for a deal which is slightly beyond market value and let teams haggle it out with hopes one of the clubs meets or comes close to the desired amount. Russell Martin seems to have done that as he’s reportedly looking for a four-year deal worth $9-10 million per season via a tweet from ESPN New York reporter Andrew Marchand.
I’m told Martin is looking for four years and $9-10M per. Doubt Yanks will do that.
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) November 27, 2012
Yesterday, I wrote that the Yankees could work around a three-year deal in the price range of $8-9 million per season. Frankly, I like Marchand and others, do not see the Yankees going a fourth year and I think they will hesitate to pay Martin more than $9 million per season in a three-year contract. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers are all in the mix.
Suzuki not close despite early morning rumor
One rumor concerning a deal for Ichiro Suzuki for one-year/$5 million was left as just that, a rumor. Many Yankees observers squashed the rumor as the day progressed. It makes sense that this deal would not get done before Pettitte’s and Rivera’s. The Yankees will be off and running once those are completed as they’ll be the higher ticket contracts handed out this offseason unless the Bombers pull off a trade which alleviates payroll. That said, the terms of the supposed deal would be a great move for the Yankees. For the umpteenth time, they’ll get a quality player for one-year and in this case it would be at a very Yankee friendly price. We’ll see how it transpires.