I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief now that Mariano Rivera has decided he will return to the New York Yankees for at least one more year.
In my heart, I know that the day will come when Mo decides to hang up his spikes and go home to his family for good. But I’m not quite ready for that so I anxiously awaited word about whether Mariano would call it quits or come back to close games for the only team he has ever played for.
All Brian Cashman was waiting for was Mo’s decision. Now that Mo has made that choice, Cashman has indicated that he and Mariano’s agent will move quickly to finalize a new deal for the Yankees legendary closer. Mo’s return from his devastating injury does not appear to be a major obstacle as Joe Girardi & Co were pleased with the progress Mariano was making in his rehab. Mo’s last contract negotiations also went so smoothly, they were over before you could even blink, namely because Mariano, probably generous to a fault, had no desire to squeeze every last dollar from the Yankees, even though he had so much leverage over his team (including competing interest from the Boston Red Sox).
Mo’s return warms my heart, but Scott Boras probably didn’t have the same feelings of joy when he heard the news. Boras would have had tremendous leverage to negotiate a rich, multi-year deal for his client Rafael Soriano had Mariano decided to retire. But the chances of Soriano staying with the Yankees took a significant hit once Mo decided to come back. Hal Steinbrenner seems determined to get to that $189 million payroll threshold, which means he will not be able to pay both Rivera and Soriano $14-$15 million each. He’s going to have to choose one and Cashman’s public eagerness to work up a new deal for Mo tells me the Yankees have already made their choice.
Not that there’s much of a choice to be made. Soriano filled in nicely and I wish him well, but there is only one Mariano Rivera and he will be back where he belongs next year, on a mound for the New York Yankees.