The New York Yankees today announced they have signed right-handed closer Mariano Rivera, Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader, to a one-year contract for the 2013 season.
Rivera, who turned 43 on Thursday, has recorded at least one save in each of the last 17 seasons (since 1996), marking the longest such streak in American League history and tying Lee Smith for the second-longest such streak all time behind John Franco’s 18 consecutive seasons. His 608 career saves are exactly twice as many saves with one team as Jeff Montgomery—who ranks second in saves among players who spent their entire career with one club—had with Kansas City (304).
In 2012, Rivera was 1-1 with five saves and a 2.16 ERA (8.1IP, 2ER) in nine relief appearances for the Yankees before having his season cut short by a torn right ACL on May 3. He underwent surgery to repair the tear on June 12 and missed the remainder of the year.
Despite missing the majority of 2012, over the last 10 seasons (2003-12), he leads the Majors with 365 saves. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the oldest pitcher in franchise history to record a save and just the second to do so after turning 40, joining Jim Kaat, who earned two saves as a 40-year-old in 1979.
“Like I’ve been saying, I didn’t want to go out like that,” Rivera said. “I didn’t want that to be the last image. But it wasn’t an easy decision because there’s more than just baseball with me. I have to consider my family and the church, too. But I feel like we have a great group of guys and a team that can compete for a championship. I’m not just coming back to play. I’m coming back to win.”
Since earned runs became an official statistic in the National League in 1912 and the American League in 1913, Rivera’s 2.21 career ERA is the second-lowest all time among pitchers with at least 1,000.0 innings pitched, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, trailing only Eddie Cicotte’s 2.20 career ERA.
A 12-time American League All-Star, Rivera has posted a sub-2.00 ERA in eight of the last 10 seasons since 2003. From 2008-11, Rivera became the only pitcher in Baseball history with at least 60 appearances and a sub-2.00 ERA in each of four consecutive years. He has pitched in at least 60 games in 14 different campaigns, the most such seasons all time.
Rivera’s 42 postseason saves—18 in the ALDS, 13 in the ALCS and 11 in the World Series—and his 96 postseason appearances, are all Major League records, while his 0.70 ERA (141.0IP, 11ER) in postseason play is the lowest all time (minimum 30.0IP). He was part of his fifth World Championship team in 2009, recording the final out in each of the Yankees’ three postseason series-clinching wins en route to the club’s 27th World Championship. Rivera has allowed just 1ER over his last 25 playoff appearances (31.1IP, 0.29 ERA) since Game 4 of the 2005 ALDS vs. the Angels.
The Panama native was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on February 17, 1990, and is currently the longest-tenured Yankee (17 yrs, 105 days). His 18 seasons with the club are tied with Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and teammate Derek Jeter for most by a player in franchise history.
Additionally, the Yankees claimed RHP Jim Miller off waivers from the Oakland Athletics. Miller, 30, went 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA (48.2IP, 14ER) in 33 relief appearances over four stints with the A’s in 2012. He held opposing batters to a .217 (39-for-180) opponents batting average, including a .136 (11-for-81) mark against left-handed hitters. Originally selected by the Colorado Rockies in the eighth round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Miller has appeared in 47 career Major League games with Baltimore (2008), Colorado (2011) and Oakland (2012), going 2-3 with one save and a 2.42 ERA (63.1IP, 17ER).
The Yankees also signed INF Jayson Nix to a Major League contract, avoiding arbitration. To make room for the two additions to the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated Nix and RHP Mickey Storey for assignment.