In 18 years, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera never had a problem with his arm. It took a shagged fly ball and a meniscus tear to end 2012 for baseball’s all-time saves leader, but the 43-year-old reportedly expects to be back in pinstripes for Opening Day in 2013.
According to MLB.com, Rivera will begin throwing next week and his knee is 95 percent healed from the injury he sustained last May.
When Rivera went down, the Yankees turned to 33-year-old Rafael Soriano, who led the club with 42 saves and posted a 2.26 ERA. It was the second most saves in Soriano's 11-year career, and accounted for a huge chunk of the Yankees' 95 wins last season, but his return is uncertain.
Soriano is currently a free agent, and seeking a lucrative long-term deal, the kind Yankee brass has been hesitant to sign. Soriano reportedly turned down New York’s $13.3 million qualifying offer, and in turn upped his price to other teams.
If any other club inks him to a deal, they will have to fork over their top draft pick in June’s draft as compensation to the Yankees. The Detroit Tigers reportedly showed interest, but the cost of a draft pick might have scared them off.
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Should a team take that risk for Soriano, New York will have few options behind Rivera. Right-hander David Robertson was a solid set-up man for Soriano, but is not seen as a long-term closer.
Then there is lefty Boone Logan, who was more of a middle reliever and posted a 3.74 ERA with 68 strikeouts last season. Logan has been tied to several trade rumors during the offseason, and is scheduled to hit free agency after next season.