Mariano Rivera tells Yankees GM Brian Cashman he wants to return
Mariano Rivera isn't quite ready to call it a career.
The closer, who appeared to waver in recent weeks regarding playing in 2013, told Yankees general manager Brian Cashman on Friday that he wants to return.
"Mo said he'd like to come back," Cashman said Saturday afternoon by phone. "We'd like to have him back, he wants to be back, so now we'll talk about a contract in the coming weeks."
There are some potential obstacles in those talks, but none considered so major that they would drag on for an extended period.
Still, Rivera, who turns 43 Nov. 29, is coming off an ACL injury that cost him most of the season. He made $15 million in 2012 and is unlikely to be interested in a pay cut. If the Yankees insist on that, common ground could be found by loading a slightly lower base salary with incentives.
The Yankees haven't shied away from playing hardball with their legends in past contract talks; Derek Jeter is the most prominent example two offseasons ago. But there's no reason to expect a lengthy delay on an agreement, likely on a one-year deal.
"I'll talk to Fern Cuza in the coming weeks," Cashman said of Rivera's agent. "And we'll work something out."
The news of Rivera's return almost certainly ends Rafael Soriano's two-year stint with the Yankees, a process that started earlier in the week when the reliever opted out of his contract.
There was an outside chance that Soriano -- who received a $13.3-million qualifying offer Friday but is looking for a multiyear deal to close -- could have returned to the Yankees, especially if Rivera had retired, which would have left the Yankees in need of a closer. Soriano converted 42 of 46 save opportunities after Rivera was injured, but the Yankees have no interest in paying him closer's money to be a setup man, the case two offseasons ago, when he was signed to a three-year, $35-million deal.
Rivera tore his right ACL while shagging flies during batting practice May 3 in Kansas City. As he leaned on crutches in the clubhouse after that game, he spoke emotionally about his future, sounding like a player who might be ready to retire.
But he was resolute when he spoke to reporters the following day. "I'm coming back," he said. "Put it down in big letters. I'm not going out like this."
There seemed to be some question about that in the weeks after the Yankees lost to the Tigers in the ALCS, with Cashman saying the closer was "still thinking through some things."
Having given adequate thought to all of them, baseball's all-time leader in saves with 608 made his decision to pitch in 2013.
"Obviously," Cashman said, "it's great news."