A look at what the Yankees are facing

Mariano Rivera blows a kiss to the crowd

Mariano Rivera blows a kiss to the crowd to acknowledge cheers after recording his 602nd save. (Sept. 19, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Closing time

The easiest -- and best -- option: re-sign Mariano Rivera. But Rivera has yet to inform the Yankees about his 2013 plans. Additionally, he's coming off ACL surgery, will be 43 Nov. 29 and isn't likely to be interested in taking a pay cut from the $15 million he made in 2012. Though few believe Rivera will retire, if he does and Rafael Soriano finds closer money elsewhere, the Yankees could have a problem.

 

Pitching, pitching, pitching

With the free-agent pitching pool relatively weak, it makes getting Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda back in the fold even more important. After the Yankees' ALCS loss, Pettitte said he hoped to make a decision about playing in 2013 "within a month." Kuroda definitely will play. The question is for which team, and whether it will be in the United States or his native Japan.

 

Get it right

If Nick Swisher rejects -- as expected -- the qualifying offer he's likely to get Friday, the Yankees will need a rightfielder. Ichiro Suzuki would like to return, but the Yankees are hesitant to make the 39-year-old their full-time rightfielder (there's interest in retaining him as a backup). A name to think about via trade: the Diamondbacks' Justin Upton, 25, who has three years left on a six-year, $51.25-million contract.

 

Infield fliers

With an aging and increasingly injury-prone left side of the infield, the Yankees need more than a once- or twice-a-week reserve. One name to consider: the Blue Jays' Yunel Escobar, 30, on whom the Yankees have done a little legwork. Escobar has a club-friendly contract (owed $5 million next season with $5-million club options in 2014 and 2015) and could benefit from the veteran leadership in the Yankees' clubhouse. The Yankees also scouted free agent Marco Scutaro, 37 -- who wound up earning NLCS MVP honors and getting the World Series-winning hit for the Giants -- extensively before the trade deadline.

 

Catch this

Russell Martin likes the Yankees and the feeling is mutual. Martin has an advantage; in the system, only Austin Romine, coming off a back injury, is close to major league-ready. But with the organizational goal of getting the payroll to $189 million by 2014, Martin isn't likely to do better than the three-year deal for about $20 million he turned down from the Yankees last offseason.

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