Five Yankees file for free agency

Five Yankees file for free agency

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera headlined a group of five Yankees to file for free agency on Monday, the first day of eligibility.

While Rodriguez, the probable American League MVP, surprised some by triggering his opt-out during Game 4 of the World Series, the Yankees have been planning attempts to re-sign both Posada and Rivera for weeks, with proposals likely to soon follow.

First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and right-handed reliever Luis Vizcaino were the other players to file for free agency on Monday. The Yankees will hold exclusive negotiating rights with their players until Nov. 12, when free agency begins in earnest.

Lifetime Yankees Posada and Rivera should expect strong pushes from the club -- particularly after Rodriguez opted out of his contract on Sunday, forfeiting the final three years and $81 million on his contract with New York.

Posada, 36, is said to be seeking a multiyear contract, coming off an outstanding season. Posada hit a career-high .338 in 2007, ranking fourth in the American League while becoming the first Yankees catcher to finish a season in the American League's top 10 in batting average since Thurman Munson's .297 in 1978 ranked 10th.

Posada also established career highs in hits (171) and doubles (42) along with 20 home runs and 90 RBIs in 144 games (125 as a catcher). He intends to test free agency and is not sure if he will return to the Yankees, for whom he has played 1,432 Major League games.

"I have no idea," Posada said earlier this month. "I can't comment on something that I don't know what's going to happen."

Rivera, 37, is also interested in a multiyear contract but has said that he intends to test free agency. Both Posada and Rivera were amenable to negotiating a contract extension in Spring Training but the Yankees elected to wait on both players.

"We'll see," Rivera said on Oct. 9. "They had the opportunities, and they didn't do nothing with me. We'll see what happens. This is business. They treat it like a business, and I'm going to treat it like a business. It's nothing against the New York Yankees. It's nothing against the organization. It's just part of it."

Rivera, who was also outspoken about wanting manager Joe Torre to return, was 3-4 with a 3.15 ERA and 30 saves in 67 relief appearances for the Yankees. He has a franchise-record 443 career saves, the most ever in the AL and third on baseball's all-time list.

Mientkiewicz, 33, signed a one-year contract with the Yankees in January; the former Gold Glover was viewed largely as a defensive upgrade over incumbent first basemen Jason Giambi and Andy Phillips.

Though he suffered a broken right wrist on June 2 at Fenway Park, Mientkiewicz batted .277 with five home runs and 24 RBIs in 72 games, making 48 starts. He was especially valuable in September, batting .429 in his final 22 games to lead the AL in September batting average.

"I love this place," Mientkiewicz said on Oct. 10. "The energy you feel when you walk through those doors, you can't put it into words. ... I really want to come back, and I want a second chance at a world championship here."

Vizcaino, 33, was the most Major League-ready piece of the five-player Randy Johnson trade in January. The right-hander was 8-2 with a 4.30 ERA in a career-high 77 relief appearances, limiting opponents to a .235 batting average. The durable reliever has appeared in at least 70 games in five of the last six seasons and benefited from a close relationship with Rivera.

The remaining Yankees eligible to file for free agency include outfielder Bobby Abreu, right-hander Roger Clemens, catcher Jose Molina and left-handers Andy Pettitte and Ron Villone. Pettitte has a $16 million player option, and the Yankees hold a $16 million club option on Abreu.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.