Yankees set to make big offers to Posada, Rivera
Posted: Monday October 22, 2007 11:54AM; Updated: Monday October 22, 2007 12:29PM
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The Yankees are moving fast to try to lock up both Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera to new contracts, but the early word is that more progress is being made in Posada's case.
Baseball people see the Yankees offering bookend $40 million, three-year deals for each longtime star. Such offers would make them the highest-paid players at their respective positions, and unlike in the case of departed manager Joe Torre, neither should balk at that contract length.
A $40 million contract would represent raises for each at a respectable length considering both are in their mid-30s (Posada is 36 and Rivera 37) and just finished contracts that averaged $10.5 million a year. This isn't a hard call for the Yankees, who don't have viable answers to replace either unless they abandon plans to make stud rookie pitcher Joba Chamberlain a starter.
The Yankees are seeking to appease the public after losing the popular Torre and give themselves time to deal with a more complicated and pricier case -- Alex Rodriguez. But mostly they understand that they need to keep Posada and Rivera, who both fill vital roles.
The idea that Posada and Rivera would leave the Yankees because Torre is gone is downright laughable -- though probably not quite as ridiculous as the idea that Rodriguez would leave over Torre. A-Rod got along with Torre OK this year but has no longstanding allegiance to him and was hurt by the way Torre treated him last year.
It's extremely unlikely that any player would plan his future over a manager's decision to depart. And in this case it was Torre's call to reject the decent offer of $5 million guaranteed and doable incentives that could have taken him to $8 million, double what any other manager earns. "Everyone in the room wanted him to take the deal,'' GM Brian Cashman said.
If Posada could be swayed by someone else, it is actually someone who's still there, his best buddy, Derek Jeter. Posada, who recently expanded his Manhattan apartment, is seen by close Yankee observers as someone who wouldn't leave Jeter, whose own contract runs through 2010.
People close to the situation would be shocked if Posada went anywhere else. The Mets are in the market for a catcher, but even a Mets person said, "You honestly think the Yankees are letting him come here?'
In a word, no.
Rivera, though, may have his own reason for annoyance. The vaunted closer is believed to be fairly perturbed that the team waited until he was on the cusp of free agency to negotiate and may be more inclined to test the free-agent waters.
The Phillies surely would be interested in Rivera, and perhaps the Cubs should be, too, among other teams. Rivera has said he intends to enjoy free agency, meaning no early signing, and agent Fern Cuza said he'd let Rivera's remarks stand and say no more. However, if he leaves -- and Rivera lives in Westchester, N.Y. and owns a steakhouse there -- it will still be a surprise.
Donnie has the edge
Most people believe that the Yankees' managerial job is Don Mattingly's to lose. Joe Girardi's experience, knowledge and eloquence will allow him to have a better interview. The question is: How much better?
There are some within the organization so impressed by Tony Pena that he may be their top choice, but he isn't the star in New York that Mattingly or even Girardi is, and they believe it's going to be difficult for him to win the job for that reason.
If Mattingly doesn't blow the interview, he'll probably get the call. Steinbrenner's sons know Mattingly is their dad's choice, and that should hold significant sway. And, as one Yankees person said, "Who doesn't like Don Mattingly?'' The answer: It's hard to think of anyone.