By now, you're all familiar with the particulars.
A future Hall of Famer whose career ranks with the very best ever to wear the pinstripes is in need of a new contract. Said player is as beloved for who he is as a person and for the things he's done in the past as for the way he plays the game, a state of affairs which complicates things because it isn't purely about business or about baseball. And, finally, the negotiation hits a snag because the player's age makes it hard for the Yankees to accept the length of their contract demands.
Only we're not talking about Derek Jeter this time. We're talking about Mariano Rivera and you can feel free to picture Brian Cashman starring in his own Excedrin commercial right about now. The Jeter situation has grabbed all the headlines so far, but it's looking like Rivera's finding himself in similar waters.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that Rivera is looking for a two-year deal worth $36 million while the Yankees would like to stick to a one-year deal. Given the line they've drawn in the sand with Jeter, that position makes sense but this is a very different situation.
The biggest difference is in how good the players are at this point in time. Jeter was mediocre in 2008 and worse than that in 2010 with a very good 2009 in the middle. Rivera, on the other hand, has remained the best closer in baseball over the last three years and hasn't shown any signs of age diminishing his ability to slam the door on opposing offenses.
That's a pretty good argument for a second year, which is why there's a pretty good chance that someone else will offer one up. Maybe the Rangers if they lose Cliff Lee and move Neftali Feliz to the rotation? Or, in a doomsday scenario, the Red Sox?
Mo's better than Jonathan Papelbon and the sheer joy that would come from robbing him from the Yankees would make up for the increase in salary. That's not a fear that the Yankees have to deal with when it comes to Jeter because, as evidenced by their entire "Pay me for being Derek Jeter" strategy, no one else wants that kind of relationship.
Rivera is also a lot harder to replace for a carbon copy of performance than Jeter. We're not talking Jeter at his best, of course, but the one who was around in 2008 and 2010. Such a replacement would cost a lot less money, to boot, while replacing Rivera would still be expensive and wouldn't come close to replicating the original.
The money is a bit absurd, but, being honest, so is $15 million a year for a closer. That's what Rivera made last season so the Yankees aren't opposed to spending a hefty sum to be sure their ninth inning is in good hands. Why not go two years and $30 million for an opener, then, and see what can be done?