The Yankees were described by a rival GM as working hard on their eighth-inning situation, since Kerry Wood could leave as a free agent. They have called representatives for about 12 free agents, including Pedro Feliciano, as Newsday first reported.
The best free-agent reliever is Rafael Soriano and the Yankees have checked in with his agent as a fallback position in the incredibly small likelihood that Rivera does not re-sign. Soriano is not an option to come in on a closer’s salary and serve as the set-up man to Rivera now and the closer-in-waiting for when Rivera eventually retires. The Yankees do not want to invest that kind of money in a set-up man and Soriano is determined to close now, said a person who speaks with the closer.
The Yankees are waiting to hear if Rivera wants to push for a two-year contract or is comfortable going — as they hope — one year at a time.
So far this offseason we’ve heard that the Yankees were waiting until they had locked up their priorities, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Cliff Lee, before really pursuing other free agents. But all three of those negotiations are progressing slowly so it sounds like they are moving into other areas while they wait around.
This is the smart thing to do. Already there has been one reliever that they’ve checked in with, Joaquin Benoit formerly of the Rays, is close to reaching a deal with the Tigers. If they put off signing a reliever until Janruary their top choices may all be off the market.
As far as Soriano goes, I’m glad they’ve checked in with him, but if they aren’t going to give him closer money to set up then it’s not going to happen. It doesn’t sound like Rivera is interested in retiring either so it looks like there is no chance of that happening.