The original plan was that 2012 would be the last stand of the great Mariano Rivera. Maybe he would even close out another World Series victory. Unfortunately, a disastrous ACL injury on the warning track in Kansas City last May shattered that dream. He will get another shot at it next year though, as Rivera and the Yanks came to an agreement yesterday on a one-year, $10 million contract. It's the only real pay cut he's ever experienced in his 18-year career, and it's good that Rivera was amenable to it since it would have been rather silly to pay him $15 million again. Incentives include an extra $500,000 if he is named ALCS MVP, $1 million if he is named World Series MVP, and $1 million if he is named Rolaids Relief Man of the Year.
It will be difficult to know what to expect from Rivera next year since that injury was pretty fierce and he just turned 43 years old. It's hard to not have at least some confidence in someone who's gotten the job done for so long though. He maintained an ERA under two and All-Star appearances in four consecutive seasons from 2008-11 as he aged into his forties. How much will Rivera have changed from his fine age-41 campaign in '11? We won't really know until he's back out on that Yankee Stadium mound with "Enter Sandman" blaring over the sound system. He is expected back on Opening Day, so maybe it will happen then.
Now that the business of re-signing Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Rivera is out of the way, the Yankees can now focus on addressing other big questions of the off-season. Who will catch on Opening Day? Who will be in right field? Who will be in the starting rotation and bullpen? Who will become the new PB whipping boy with Russell Martin now gone? And for goodness' sake, when will Greg and longtimelistener first get to enjoy nachos together?!?!
In other news, the Yankees also re-signed infielder Jayson Nix to a one-year, $900,000 deal. He made the 25-man roster as a non-roster invitee last Spring, and he rewarded the Yankees with a perfectly fine season for a backup infielder. Nix hit .243/.306/.384 with 13 doubles and four homers in 202 plate appearances, filling at third, second, short, and even left field at times. An extra fun fact about his season that I'm sure manager Joe Girardi enjoyed was that Nix finished third in the AL in bunts (nine). Either way, the Yanks could do worse than Nix, but they should still seek to add a bigger offensive threat off the bench like Eric Chavez was last year.