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Mo agrees to two-year deal; Jeter talks progress

New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera (42) takes the

New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera (42) takes the field as he is introduced before ALDS Game 3 against the Minnesota Twins. (Oct. 9, 2010) Photo Credit: John Dunn

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The Yankees have agreed in principle to a two-year, $30-million deal with closer Mariano Rivera, a source close to the negotiations said Friday, with the announcement pending the result of a physical.

The sides are "putting on the finishing touches," a source close to the talks said of the deal.

Meanwhile, an industry source said early Friday evening that the Yankees had more "positive" talks with Derek Jeter, with the parties near the finish line.

It's looking to be an increasingly stronger possibility that the Yankees will have Jeter and Rivera signed by the winter meetings (which start Monday), if not sooner.

Friday marked another day in which the sides headed in that direction.

Another source close to the negotiations said Friday that the Red Sox's interest in Rivera was overblown, saying they were more curious than anything about the state of the negotiations but assumed all along that he would return to the Yankees.

The Rivera contract talks took place far from the spotlight that has focused on Jeter's - and without the rhetoric. That a deal with the 41-year-old was struck first wasn't surprising; from the start, just about everyone expected his contract to be the easier of the two to hammer out.

Much of that had to do with the two players' 2010 seasons. The Yankees have concerns about committing more than three years to Jeter - not to mention the increase in pay requested by the shortstop - after his statistics took a hit across the board in 2010. Rivera, on the other hand, was as effective as ever, posting a 1.80 ERA with 33 saves in 61 games.

But there has been steady progress in the Jeter talks this week, significant in that they were at a standstill when the week began.

That started to change Tuesday when members of the Yankees' hierarchy met with Jeter and agent Casey Close for nearly five hours in Tampa and smoothed over some of the rough edges. More progress came Thursday when each party moved off its original proposal, which had prompted the previous week's verbal volleys.

The Yankees, who had offered a three-year, $45-million deal, increased the money; Jeter said he would settle for less than his side's first proposal of a four- or five-year deal at $23 million per season.

The figures exchanged still are not known, but the Yankees expect Jeter to take a pay cut from the $21 million he earned last season. Co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, who hasn't been in control of the day-to-day operations for two years but has re-emerged as a public figure in recent weeks, said Thursday night that the Yankees' offer is fair.

"The ball's in Derek's court now, and his agent," he told The Associated Press Thursday night. "It's up to them."

He said later: "We don't know how happy they are. We'll see. There's no possible way anybody could criticize us for what we've offered."

Speaking Friday morning in Stamford, Conn. - before further progress had been made in the Jeter talks - general manager Brian Cashman wouldn't categorize the negotiations one way or the other.

"Things like close or far, they really don't help in the process as much," he said. "It's either deal or no deal."

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