Jim Baumbach of Newsday reports:
TAMPA, Fla. -- Mariano Rivera said Monday he would not hesitate to leave the Yankees as a free agent next winter if they don't show him the "respect" he thinks he deserves.
The Yankees, in a bold move, appear willing to give their longtime closer the freedom to walk away if he chooses. According to a person familiar with the situation, the Yankees and Rivera's agent, Fernando Cuza, agreed a few months ago to view the start of spring training as a self-imposed deadline to reach an extension -- and the time passed with little dialogue.
So with the Yankees not interested in negotiating a new contract yet, Rivera, 37, could be less than nine months from becoming a free agent for the first time in a stellar career that began in 1995.
"If they wanted to talk, we'd be willing to listen," he said, "but I'm not going to bring up anything. I'm not going to be first."
Rivera was adamant that he is not upset by this surprising development, but his strong stance is very much out of character.
"I definitely want to finish my career here," Rivera said, "but if they don't give me the respect that I deserve ... I'm not going to stay at my house crying. I have to move on."
General manager Brian Cashman, who was scheduled to travel here Monday, did not return messages seeking comment.
"The Yankees have always given me the respect, but ... this is a business," Rivera said while standing outside the doors to the minor-league complex. "If they have somebody who can do the job better than I do it, then they will do it."
Rivera said last November he would like to be pitching for the Yankees when they christen their stadium in 2009, a subtle way to make it known he is seeking a two-year deal. But Monday he spoke only of 2007.
"I know I have one more year, and that is this year," he said. "After that, I don't know what's going to happen ... I would love to be a Yankee. But like I said, I only have one more year for that."
I'm not exactly Nostradamus, but I will go out on a limb and predict that Mo will never pitch for another ball club. There is absolutely NO CHANCE the Yankees will let Mo walk after the season.
My best guess is that he'll get his two-year extension before he even has the opportunity to file for free-agency.