Rivera says he'll consider offers from other teams

Updated: February 14, 2007, 9:07 PM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- Mariano Rivera had this warning for the New York Yankees: If he becomes a free agent, he'll consider offers from other teams.

"Everybody has the same shot," he said Wednesday. "The Yankees will not have an advantage."

Brian Cashman interview
Brian Cashman
Brian Cashman tells ESPN Radio 1050's Michael Kay that a chat with Mariano Rivera cleared the air over the closer's remarks, but confirmed they won't talk new contract until later.
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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman called the 37-year-old closer Tuesday night, a day after Rivera said he was hoping for a contract extension. Cashman told Rivera his preference is to push back the matter until after the season.

"It's very hard, despite how great Mariano is, to all of a sudden pick and choose who to start discussing contracts with," Cashman said. "If you start picking and choosing one, someone else is sitting there saying, 'Well, why not me?'"

Catcher Jorge Posada also is entering the final season of his contract, and third baseman Alex Rodriguez can opt out of his deal after the World Series.

Rivera, the backbone of the Yankees during their run of nine straight AL East titles, will earn $10.5 million this year, the final season of a three-year agreement. When he was about to enter the final season of his contract in 2004, the Yankees negotiated an extension during spring training.

"Everybody has the same shot. The Yankees will not have an advantage."
-- Mariano Rivera

"The Yankees always knew that I wanted to be with the Yankees and finish my career with the Yankees," he said. "If they don't want to do [anything] with me, I'm not go home crying. I'm going to move on."

He doesn't see himself playing in another uniform.

"But if I have to, I have to do it," he said.

Rivera wants to pitch for the team in the new Yankee Stadium in 2009 and said he wasn't upset with the team's decision. The 37-year-old right-hander doesn't want to discuss his contract during the season.

Last fall, when Mike Mussina was eligible for free agency, the Yankees started talks with his agent soon after their season ended and agreed to a $23 million, two-year deal. It appears likely that if Rivera has a season typical for him, New York will act on a similar timetable.

"We are fine with that," said Rivera's agent, Fernando Cuza.

Rivera was 5-5 with 34 saves and an 1.80 ERA last year, when he was sidelined from Aug. 31 to Sept. 22 because of a muscle strain near his right elbow.

"Maybe they're thinking they've got to wait for me if I'm healthy or not. I don't know what they're thinking," he said.

Manager Joe Torre said Tuesday that he plans to limit Rivera to the ninth inning this season. Torre has said before, then brought in Rivera during tough spots in the eighth.

"Sometimes it's going to be one inning. Sometimes it's going to be two innings. I will never think one inning," Rivera said.

Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who worked out across the street at the team's minor league complex, wasn't worried.

"Mo ain't going nowhere. Mo will be right here next year. Where is he going to go?" Jeter said with a smile. "I'm just playing. I don't know his situation to be honest. I'm sure he would want an extension. I'd love to have an extension, too. To be honest with you, I didn't even know he was a free agent after this year. I'm sure they'll work it out."

Rivera isn't worried that the Yankees will treat him the same way they've dealt with Bernie Williams, who thus far has refused to accept the team's offer of a minor league contract.

"Bernie's an outfielder. I'm a pitcher," Rivera said. "As a player, we have to understand that this is a business. I do understand this is a business. You don't produce, you go home."

He's placed a few calls to Williams, but hasn't spoken with him.

"I've been trying, but no luck," Rivera said.

Jeter has gotten through to Williams.

"He's been a fixture here since I was in high school. I think that's probably going to be the most awkward thing of the spring, is not having Bernie here," Jeter said. "Bernie had a good year last year. I mean, he wasn't expected to play much last season and then because of injury he found himself in the lineup a lot. He did a great job. Outstanding job. I don't know what the numbers are, I don't know what the situations are, but I wish Bernie was here."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press