Rivera's future may be tied to Torre's
Closer's decision could hinge on whether manager remains
NEW YORK -- Joe Torre's future in New York holds implications that range well beyond the manager's office in Yankee Stadium. Whether or not Torre returns may also have a direct influence on who will pitch, who will catch, and who will close for the Yankees next season.
Mariano Rivera made the latter portion of that clear on Tuesday, when he said that his future in the Bronx could very well be linked with his manager's.
"I don't feel good about it," Rivera said of the possibility that Torre will not return to the Yankees next season. "I don't see why they're even thinking it. But I wish he's back, definitely. If you asked me what I want, I want him back."
Rivera and Posada are two of the only four current Yankees -- Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte are the others -- who have won four championships under Torre. They're two of the only Yankees to wear pinstripes even before Torre came along, so it's no surprise that they've formed a deeply rooted bond.
"It's going to be a good number," Rivera said when asked to what extent Torre's future will affect his own. "I won't tell you the number, but it will be a good number."
Rivera asked the Yankees to discuss a contract extension with him during Spring Training, but the Yankees declined. Now Rivera holds a fair share of leverage.
"I'm going to be open to hear all offers," Rivera said. "The Yankees had their opportunity, and didn't do nothing with it."
Rivera, like Posada, is eligible to file for free agency after the World Series, and he gave no indications that he would forego that right. He said he would be willing to listen to the Yankees in the interim, while the team retains exclusive rights to negotiate with their closer. Yet, he wouldn't say whether he'd consider signing a new contract before seeing what other teams have to say -- and before knowing the future of his manager.
The question of whether Torre, whose contract has expired, will be invited back is based on comments made last week by owner George Steinbrenner and the Yankees' playoff loss to Cleveland, their third consecutive Division Series defeat.
Rivera just completed one of the worst statistical seasons of his career, posting a 3.15 ERA -- his highest mark since his rookie season in 1995 -- and allowing nearly a hit per inning. He'll turn 38 years old next month.
And while his best seasons are likely behind him, he still remains among the most feared closers in the game. With the Yankees expecting a relatively young pitching staff to return next season, Rivera's value remains quite high.
"The way he goes about his business is pretty simple," reliever Ron Villone said. "Everything he does is pretty simple. But it's also kind of magnificent when you look at the outcome. I don't think you'll probably ever see that again."
Nor would the Yankees want to see him in anything other than pinstripes. They certainly hold some sort of advantage, as Rivera has played all 13 years of his career in the Bronx and would love to finish it there as well. He said he wants his next contract to be his last.
But the hometown lure doesn't seem to hold as much weight as the Torre lure. And that's an important offshoot the Yankees have to consider.
"I've been with Joe for so many years, and the kind of person that he has been for me and for my teammates, it's been great," Rivera said. "The thing is, I don't see why they had to put him in this position."
That's precisely why Rivera also said he's content to wait, and see precisely what direction the Yankees take. For now, he'll proceed as if this were a normal offseason, even joking with reporters to come visit his suburban New Rochelle, N.Y., restaurant.
One reporter shot back, asking if he really needed the money. Rivera smiled.
"I don't have a job," he laughed.
Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.