Are the Yankees really playing it cheap with Mo Rivera?

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Yankees, already in a public free agent battle with shortstop Derek Jeter, are now at odds with Mariano Rivera about a contract for next season.

Rivera wants a two-year deal worth around $18 million per season but the Yanks only want to give him a one-year pact.

First reaction?  The Steinbrenner kids are serious about running the club like a business and not spending wildly like the pinstriped teams of the past.  They’re really going to play hardball with the old timers.

Second reaction?  Rivera won’t be treated like Jeter, because Mo is still a highly effective player and worth a little outlandish cash for a couple of final seasons.  The 40-year-old closer turned in a 1.80 ERA and 0.83 WHIP this past year while holding opposing hitters to a .187 batting average.  Jeter, meanwhile, registered a career-worst .270/.340/.370 batting line and showed poor range at the shortstop position.

The Yankees’ three-year, $45 million offer to Jeter is a generous one.  I think we all need to be reminded of that.

Brian Cashman and Co. will concede on Rivera — probably not at a total of cost of $36 million, but they’ll concede.  They shouldn’t on Jeter.

Rays sign lefty Ryan Merritt to a minor league deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.

Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.

His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.

The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.