So what is about to happen in this crazy “offseason of change?” Likely very little. Let’s take a look at the Yankees big free agents:
1. Mariano Rivera: Bet you thought I was going to start with A-Rod as number one right? Well technically he’s not a free agent, remember? No one seems to remember, and it’s a very important detail (much like Torre no longer being under contract and thus not in a position to be fired). I am not counting any player who has an option of any sort until my next post. So that includes Pettitte and Abreu.
Rivera is the Yankees most important free agent because he is irreplacable. I argued before the season that he should receive an extension on the grounds that nothing he could do during the season would hurt his value that much. I like the idea of Cash waiting on some of these guys before offering them money. But in Rivera’s case, no matter how bad a year he had someone will be willing to pay him. And you cannot let him pitch in another uniform, so the Yankees have to pay him. End of story.
This was a mediocre year at best for Rivera, yet at the end was there any player you would rather be handing the ball to?
The Prediction: 2 years, $25 million, with a vesting option for a third year at $12.5.
2. Jorge Posada: Posada I was not as adamant about giving an extension to, simply because catchers usually don’t age well. However, I didn’t think it would be a terrible idea to lock him up for another year because of the lack of available catchers. Now Posada posted a truly amazing contract year, in which he improved in every category including defense. And because of the aforementioned lack of catchers, you could see a bidding war with the Mets among others. Posada claims to hinge on Joe Torre (along with Rivera for that matter) but just like with Rivera, I think if the Yankees offer him top dollar, he’ll stay regardless of who the manager is. This is where he is comfortable.
The Prediction: 2 years, $28 million, team option for a 3rd year at $15 million.
3. Jose Molina: The best backup catcher the Yankees have had in recent memory. He wants to come back. He should come back, especially if Posada does leave.
The Prediction: 2 years, $4 million.
4. Doug Meint… : Doug plays good defense. But so does Andy Phillips. And the Yanks need righties.
The Prediction: Signs elsewhere.
5. Roger Clemens: ESPN “experts” were predicting whether the Rocket would play again and a lot of them said he would because “his body is still healthy.” This made me wonder if they follow baseball at all. Or maybe they only watch games from the 90’s. Roger Clemens has a balky hamstring (which has been a recurring problem the last couple years) and an elbow that would likely require surgery. He is retiring. He took a couple of cortisone shots in September with the hopes of one last gasp in October. It didn’t happen. The only way it would make sense for the Yankees to bring him back would be on a $5 million prorated contract to be a setup man. I can’t see the Rocket going out like that.
The Prediction: Retirement.
6. Luis Vizcaino: The Viz was the Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde of the Yankee bullpen. He was probably a victim of Torre’s bullpen blunders, but who knows what his arm has left. That said, I still think the Yankees bring him back because they will likely throw a lot of money at middle relief and hope some things stick (more on this in a subsequent post).
The Prediction: 1 year, $4 million.
7. Ron Villone: He just keeps kicking around. And you never know when a left handed reliever might have a renaissance. Hell, Alan Embree is still going.
The Prediction: Invite to spring training.
8. Jim Brower: The only other free agent to spend time with the big league team.
The Prediction: Minor-League contract.