Friday, December 3, 2010

Red Sox Made Last Minute Pitch To Mariano Rivera

The Boston Red Sox made a last ditch effort to land New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera and were prepared to non-tender the contract of Jonathan Papelbon according to a source close to the negotiations.  The 2-year, $30 million offer was exactly the same deal Rivera is set to sign with the Yankees tonight, according to the New York Daily News.

The Yankees gave the green light to sign Mariano after it was reported that other teams were showing interest in the 41 year-old, future Hall-of-Famer.  Besides the Red Sox, it was believed another club was prepared to give the closer a 3-year package worth about $51 million.

Rivera has said he wanted to remain with the team and "Stay loyal to the Yankees," according to the source. The right-hander is a lifelong Yankee and as a tribute to that bond agreed to take less money and fewer years to stay in pinstripes.

Papelbon, who is coming off his worst season in Boston (3.90 ERA, 8 blown saves) and was the Red Sox closer for five years must be wondering where he fits in to the team's future plans.  He is eligible for free agency after next year.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have settled one third of their off-season Triple-Crown.  Getting Derek Jeter and Cliff Lee are the other two jewels in the trifecta.  Rivera's free agency was pretty quiet compared to those other negotiations. In fact, Rivera's contract talks were relatively mouse like.  Until yesterday, the only peep from Rivera's agent, Fernando Cuza, was when he remarked that the Yankees and Rivera were "a little far apart" on getting a deal together.   All that changed quickly after other teams started throwing offers on the table.  Cuza has verified receiving calls from other teams, but wouldn't elaborate.

The Yankees winter has been nothing short of dramatic.  While Rivera's contract talks were relatively civil,  New York's sports talk shows have been dominated by discussions about the Yankees love-him-or-leave-him treatment and re-signing of their poster-boy, Derek Jeter and the contractual numbers being thrown at this year's big arm, starting pitcher Cliff Lee.  Jeter's talks have dragged on for weeks and has fans taking sides about the shortstop's worth.

Not so with Rivera.  He has freakishly shown no signs of aging.  Mo posted a 1.80 ERA and 33 saves last season and only he knows how many more years he can pitch.  For now,  the Yankee Stadium sound man will keep "Enter Sandman" on it's play list for at least a couple of more years.

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