Mariano Rivera seemed at peace with it all, and maybe that’s to be expected. He’s always been calm and controlled at the end.
“I would say we worked hard the whole year,” he said. “Now, it’s over. There’s a sense of relief, yes. … Definitely, I’ve been ready for this moment. I’m OK with it. I’m happy with it. Move on.”
For some, that’s a lot easier said than done.
Tonight the Rays and Rangers play a tiebreaker to determine which team plays a wild-card play-in game on Wednesday. It’s not an ideal situation for either team, but it’s a better situation than the Yankees are in right now. They finished tied with the Orioles for third place in the American League East, a full six games out of the wild card. The Royals had a better record than the Yankees.
There were positives to this season, and a case could be made that the Yankees overachieved considering all the injuries. Of course, a case could also be made that the Yankees were ill-prepared — in terms of depth and minor league talent — to deal with those injuries. And certainly we’ll spend some time this winter looking back at the things that went wrong along the way. Today, though, we follow Rivera’s lead and move on into the uncertainty of this offseason.
“I don’t know who’s going to be here next year,” Derek Jeter said. “I have no idea. I can’t comment on next year. I don’t even know if the manager and coaches are free agents too, so anything I would say about next year would be premature and speculation.”
Truth is, there aren’t many answers about next season. So how do we start dealing with the offseason’s many questions? Well, it starts today.
• Joe Girardi will meet with ownership in the next few days to discuss whether or not he returns at Yankees manager. Larry Rothschild’s contract also expires this offseason, and the Yankees seem to want him back.
• Free agency will pluck a group of key Yankees off the roster. Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda are the headliners, but Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and Lyle Overbay — among others — will also need to be replaced one way or another. This is going to take a while, though.
• Dave Robertson and Brett Gardner are due for arbitration raises, Ivan Nova and Shawn Kelley are also arb-eligible for the first time, and the Yankees will have to make decisions about whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible guys like Chris Stewart, David Huff and Jayson Nix.
• Slade Heathcott and Chase Whitley are among the prospects who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter.
• Winter ball will start in October, and Dellin Betances has asked the Yankees to let him play in the Dominican Republic so that he can keep throwing and stay sharp. Eduardo Nunez is also planning to play winter ball, but he said he’s not sure yet whether he should focus on shortstop, second base or third base. Cesar Cabral has also played winter ball in the past, and Vidal Nuno is heading to the Arizona Fall League. By spring training, each of those four could be legitimate big league options.
Point is, it’s a long offseason, and it’s going to be even longer than usual for the Yankees. There’s also a lot to be done, with huge decisions to make and key players coming and going. For Rivera there may be a sense of relief. For everyone else, it seems more like uncertainty.
“We’ll see,” Jeter said. “There’s a lot of ifs and questions; who’s coming back and who’s not coming back. I have no idea. It would be unfair to even speculate.”
Of course, that won’t stop us. And we’ll have plenty of time to do it.
Chat tomorrow: I suppose we can start some of the speculation tomorrow. Let’s do a chat at noon on Tuesday. Hope you guys can stop by for a while. Obviously there’s plenty to discuss.
Associated Press photos