Mariano Rivera, perhaps the greatest closers in baseball history, is contemplating retirement after 18 seasons.
Rivera informed New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman earlier this week of his uncertainty about returning for the 2013 season.
“He wasn’t certain on what he is going to do,” Cashman said to ESPN New York on Tuesday.
Rivera, 42, tore his ACL in Kansas City in early May when he was running to catch a flyball in the outfield during warm-ups. Since then, after surgery, he has been in rehab and at the time of his injury vowed to make a return.
“I’m coming back,” Rivera said then. “Put it down. Write it down in big letters. I ain’t going down like this.”
Apparently, he has now moved off of that position.
Rivera had played in nine games at the time of his injury and had an ERA of 2.16 with five saves and 0.96 in walks and hits per innings pitched.
Rivera enters the offseason as a free agent, but the Yankees would like to have him back if he decides he wants to continue his career. Last year he made $15 million, but with the Yankees looking to downsize their budget by 10 percent to $189 million for 2014 to take advantage of new luxury tax breaks, it seems unlikely they will offer him that much.
On Wednesday, during Yankees manager Joe Girardi end-of-season news conference, he hinted at the possible uncertainty of Rivera’s return.
“From watching how he rehabbed and everything that he was going through, picked up a baseball sooner than he was supposed to and got his hand smacked a little bit, that would tell me that Mo probably wants to play,” Girardi said. “But in saying that, it’s a decision that I think he’ll sit down with his family, evaluate where he is maybe a little bit later in this process and how he feels and how his arm feels, to feel like you think you can compete at the same level he’s always competed at.”
If Rivera does call it a career, he would leave the game with 608 runs, 1,119 strikeouts and 2.21 ERA.
The Yankees will look to resign Rafael Soriano if Rivera does not return. Soriano flourished as the Yankees’ closer, converting 42-of-46 saves. Soriano is in the final season of his contract, but plans to opt out to test the free agent market according to his agent Scott Boras. The 32-year-old made $11 million last season and has a $1.5 million buyout out of his $14 million salary for 2013.
In spring training this past season Rivera said he knew if the 2012 season would be his last or not, but would not disclose the information to management or the media.
Girardi is optimistic that Rivera will be back to close for the Yankees in 2013, since he has always said that he wants to go out on top.
“But I don’t think that you push a rehab like he pushed it unless you think that you possibly have some interest in coming back.”