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Who saves the Yankees' closer role?

David Robertson hands the ball to manager Joe

David Robertson hands the ball to manager Joe Girardi as he leaves the game in the eighth inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. (Sept. 19, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Considering the alternatives, is Rafael Soriano worth the $60 million four-year deal Yankees president Randy Levine told Newsday on Wednesday the reliever was seeking?

Mariano Rivera, who will turn 43 on Nov. 29, has not informed the Yankees one way or the other but may retire. The 32-year-old Soriano, seeking a lucrative long-term deal that the Yankees do not appear inclined to offer, may jump ship.

Both players’ decisions might leave the Yankees looking for a 2013 closer.
But, there are those alternatives, right?

A far cry from “the Yankees’ way,” the Bombers can promote from within and decide David Robertson, who imploded in his second save opportunity against the Rays, is ready for the role.

Based on the recent history of previous winter$, a bullpen headed by Robertson and assembled with the likes of David Aardsma, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada probably wouldn’t have Brian Cashman feeling overwhelmingly confident.

Barring a creative move such as exploring if the Giants are willing to move either Sergio Romo or Brian Wilson, the Yankees are left with several mid-tier free agent relievers with closing experience to choose from.

We start where the season finished.

Maybe playing on the same team as Raul Ibanez would help “Papa Grande.” Jose Valverde, 34, may have imploded during the playoffs but he did save 35 games for the American League champions and was perfect the year prior.

Not enticing? Well, there’s a heftier option and not necessarily in terms of cost.

Jonathan Broxton, 28, whose figure makes CC Sabathia suddenly appear slim, saved 23 games for the Kansas City Royals before he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for the stretch run to set up for Aroldis Chapman. Broxton would bring credentials to the Bronx: he is a former two-time all-star closer with 548 strikeouts in 450 career innings pitched.

There are also closer choices rebounding from injuries. Hey, Fernando Rodney captured the Comeback Player of the Year award and came at a cheap price, so why not, right?

The man whose injury prompted the Reds to turn Chapman into a closer is also a free agent: 32-year-old Ryan Madson. “Mad dog” is recovering from Tommy John surgery but performed well in his lone season as a closer for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011.

After the Royals declined his 2013 option on Oct. 31, Joakim Soria, 28, became a free agent. The two-time all-star underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a damaged UCL in his right elbow, causing him to miss the entire 2012 season.

If those candidates do not impress Cashman, there is one free agent with not only closing experience but familiarity with pitching in New York City and in October: Francisco Rodriguez.


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