Rivera considering retirement and has not decided on return in 2013
Call it posturing or call it a change of heart, but there is a possibility Mariano Rivera may very well not be back in 2013. After declaring boldly he would be back next year immediately following a torn ACL in early May, the greatest closer of all-time is said to be considering retirement.
“He said he doesn’t know what he is doing yet,” General Manager Brian Cashman said of a Tuesday night conversation he had with Rivera. “I asked him what his plans were and he said, ‘I haven’t decided yet.’ He said he was working his way through about 2013 and he would let me know soon.”
On one hand, it could be a ploy from Rivera and his agent to make sure he gets paid well when he resigns for a one year deal his 2012 replacement, Rafael Soriano, is preparing to opt-out immediately following the end of the World Series. On the other hand, Rivera could be serious, realizing returning at the age of 43 to pitch one more season may not be all its cracked up to be, especially if it means not being at his normal, impossibly good level of effectiveness.
Whether in 2013 or 2014, the Yankees will have to guard against both the departure of Rivera and Soriano, who has an expiring contract after 2013 even if he does inexplicably stay under contract next year. In this sense, the Yankees are pretty heavily prepared.
Their top option is likely top setup man, Dave Robertson. Robertson now has plenty of playoff and regular season experience and was the first choice for closer before he injured himself and paved the way for Soriano to have a dominant season.
With one of the best curveballs in the game and a sneaky good fastball along with a cutter, Robertson has a closer’s arsenal. Occasionally stricken with control problems, he may not end up as dominant as Rivera or even Soriano in 2012, but that shouldn’t be the expectations going forward and the Yankees should not dedicate any large budget towards a closer of the future while under financial constraints.
Broxton has not been effective in a big market in a number of years and he and Capps are not as good of a reliever as Robertson to begin with. League was hurt last year and lost his closer’s role in Seattle, and Valverde and Rodney are both well past their primes. It’s also not clear how well Valverde’s 16 step dance routine would go in the Bronx following each save and he remains a risk in a season where he is not presently closing in the World Series.
Two intriguing names perhaps moreso for a 2014 role at closer from the Yankees’ system are Mark Montgomery and Dellin Betances. The former has quickly risen through the system, spending 2012 healthy and dominant in A and AA in the closing role. Montgomery is currently pitching in the Arizona fall league and has 11 strikeouts, two hits and one earned run in six innings.
The latter name should seem more familiar. Betances was a member of the prospect trio,, “The Killer B’s” consisting of Andrew Brackman, Manny Banuelos and Betances. At one point, all three were big-time starting pitcher prospects. Brackman has since been traded and is one foot out the door for Major League Baseball, Banuelos was hurt most of 2012 and with surgery, will miss most of 2013, and Betances struggled mightily as a starter and some scouts see him as a reliever.
Presently, Betances is working as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League and trying to reclaim his status as a legitimate prospect. The former starter has fallen to 17th on the Yankees’ prospect list and issued 99 walks between AAA and eventually AA, where he was demoted with a 6+ ERA in 2012.
Recently, the 6’8″ righty delivered two shutout innings and struck our four after a rocky start. Realistically, Betances has a long way to go to show not only that he’s MLB caliber, but that he has the potential to one day be a closer.
From a budget and an experience standpoint, it would be hard not to assume Robertson is the heir to Rivera. Brian Cashman is not going to want to spend a lot of money outside of the organization when he has holes to fill in the outfield, at catcher and in the rotation, the Yankees can ill afford to give up prospects for a luxury and Robertson is plenty qualified.
Look for the righty with the big curve to be the man in 2013 and beyond.
Ichiro Suzuki “strongly wants to stay” with the Yankees. Ichiro posted a cool .322/.340/.454 batting line and tallied 14 stolen bases in 67 games this season with New York.
CC Sabathia underwent surgery Thursday to remove a small bone spur from his left elbow. The good news is that he is expected to be fully recovered by the time the 2013 season