The New York Yankees are re-fitting the pieces of their 95-win team, along with their larger plan to rein in spending in the face of a more punitive payroll tax.
A week after securing starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year contract, on Tuesday they appeared to be nearing one-year deals with starter Andy Pettitte and closer Mariano Rivera.
The short-term deals are part of general manager Brian Cashman's strategy to cut costs. Under orders from managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner to trim payroll to less than $189 million by 2014, Cashman prioritized one-year contracts in 2013.
Pettitte, who will be 41 in June, came out of retirement last season to make 14 starts, two of them in the postseason. His ERA in 12 regular-season starts was 2.87. He departed Detroit following Game 4 of the American League Championship Series intending to consider another season in pinstripes. He is expected to return for about $10 million, filling in a rotation of CC Sabathia, Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. Michael Pineda, recovering from shoulder surgery, is not expected to pitch until May or June at the earliest.
Rivera, whose 608 career saves are most in history (and doesn't count his 42 postseason saves), will be 43 on Thursday. He hasn't pitched since early May, when he injured his right knee shagging batting practice fly balls in Kansas City. He was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, underwent surgery and prepared to return in 2013.
"I'm coming back," Rivera said the day after he fell to the warning track at Kauffman Stadium. "Write it down in big letters. I'm not going down like this."
The Yankees appear to have little interest in Rafael Soriano, who had 42 saves in Rivera's absence but is a free agent and could command $15 million annually for three or four seasons. Rivera made $15 million last season and is expected to earn about the same in 2013.
Cashman will bank on the notion Pettitte, Rivera and Kuroda, who will be 38 in February, have at least another productive season in them. Additionally, Derek Jeter will turn 39 this summer, shortly before Alex Rodriguez turns 38.
The Yankees continue to negotiate with free-agent catcher Russell Martin, who has drawn interest from several clubs. They also could re-sign 39-year-old outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who batted .322 in 67 games for the Yankees after a mid-summer trade with Seattle.
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