The Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reports the Yankees made a final three-year/$45 million offer to their Hall-of-Fame closer, Mariano Rivera, and have been surprised that he has not accepted the offer yet. Following up, ESPN's Buster Olney reports some reaction: "Spoke to several agents and executives with rival teams Tuesday who are surprised that Rivera is hesitating as he decides whether to accept that offer."
Given the money being passed out to 36-year-old catchers, I am not as surprised as I should be. However, the highest dollar value contract for a closer is BJ Ryan's $47 MM and the highest average annual value closer contract is Billy Wagner's $10.75MM per year for four seasons. The Yankee's offer is for fewer years than Wagner got and for more money. It is almost as much money in two fewer years than the contract the Blue Jays gave BJ Ryan. I can't conclude it isn't a very fair offer.
Looking at what the market has paid for other closers doesn't offer much more. The Tigers resigned their closer, Todd Jones, to a one year deal worth $7MM following the news that Joel Zumaya will be out until mid-season with a shoulder injury. While it is higher than the $5MM he earned last season, it doesn't seem to have taken full advantage of this healthy market. A second year or a $10MM/one year would have fit better.
The Astros dealt their closer, Brad Lidge, for a 2nd year CF i.e five seasons of control, the top 3B prospect of a team in need of a 3B, and a servicable middle reliever. I can see this more closely approximating the offer the Yankees made. Can Juan Pierre's $9MM per year salary proxy what Michael Bourn would fetch as a free agent? How about $3MM per year for Geoff Geary? What is Mike Costanzo's future value? And the Phillies did this for one year of Brad Lidge.
While Mariano Rivera is a lock to be a big winner, how about Francisco Cordero? Is he going to be a $50MM closer? Or Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink? With The Houston Chronicle reporting that Scott Linebrink is on the Astros' wish list and that GM Ed Wade has the money to address his needs, will anyone be surprised to see him get four years and $30MM to close in Houston?
Whether the Astros should forfeit another 1st round pick given the state of their minor league system for a free agent closer is another issue.