Since the New York Yankees' acquisition of Michael Pineda, very few of their offseason transactions have come as surprises.
Tuesday night, the re-signing of reserve infielder Eric Chavez became the latest move many saw coming for the defending American League East champions. Chavez agreed to a one-year contract worth $900,000 plus incentives, a source told Newsday's Erik Boland. The deal is not official until Chavez, who has dealt with injuries in each of the last five seasons, passes a physical.
Chavez, 34, hit .263 last season with two homers and 26 RBIs in 58 games. He spent a significant portion of May, June and July on the disabled list with a fractured left foot.
"You're talking about replacing a guy like Mariano Rivera," Robertson said this morning, looking - as always - stunned that a massive group of reporters wanted to interview him. "I don't know if it can ever be done. I really don't think so."
Boy, oh boy, Yankees fans. Now you get to have this discussion -- who will replace Mariano Rivera?
It's not quite panic time yet, but given Rivera's eery-sounding quotes from Monday, it might be one year from now. Rivera turns 43 in November, and though he's been purely ageless throughout his tenure in Pinstripes, he's a renowned family man who's made no secret of his longing for more time with wife and children.
In true New York fashion, talk has already turned to his potential successor. There's no clear-cut agreement, though the frontrunners do have one thing in common -- they both appear to already be on the Yankees' roster.
After his brilliant turn as the Bombers' set-up man in 2011, David Robertson has to be included near the top of the shortlist of replacements. Robertson finished with a 1.08 ERA (lower than Rivera's 1.91) and 1.13 WHIP last season while proving to have the ideal composure and makeup for a closer under the bright, bright lights of Yankee Stadium.
The other possibility, ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews asserts, is current Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano. Matthews poses an intriguing argument -- would the Yankees really want to risk ruining Robertson's bright future by throwing him to the proverbial wolves as the successor to The Great Closer Ever? Soriano, who turns 33 in December, will be entering the final year of the pricy three-year, $35 million contract he signed prior to last season. Depending on how next offseason shakes out, Soriano could be the least risky option for the Yanks -- should Mo go, of course.
"The expected addition of Eric Chavez, as-yet-unsigned although the manager blurted out his name today as if he were already in the clubhouse, gives the Yankees further flexibility in terms of resting/DH-ing Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira."
With Chavez back in the fold, Matthews also predicts that the Yankees' lineup will rarely, if ever, hold many surprises. With Raul Ibanez also now in pinstripes, the veteran left-handed hitter figures to start against right-handed pitching. When the Yanks face a lefty starter, Andruw Jones likely will fill that spot -- which Matthews figures will be the seventh in the order.
"I'm just ready for whatever," Jones said.
Speaking of Jones, Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger writes that the soon-to-be 35-year-old veteran outfielder is expecting a much smoother season after undergoing offseason surgery on a small tear in his left knee. Jones says he has also dropped 10 pounds in the offseason, giving him hope that he can play in the outfield more in 2012.