Mariano Rivera Re-Ups with Yankees: Ranking Top Late-Inning FAs Still Available
When Mariano Rivera was lost for the season while shagging balls this spring, the closer vowed to return in 2013 despite the fact that he just turned 43 this past Thursday.
Rafael Soriano's opting out of New York may have been a signal that Rivera would most certainly be welcomed back.
Now that he's agreed to return to the Yankees on a one-year deal worth $10 million, the rest of the free-agent market for late-inning relievers will continue to develop.
There are some great options available, though others clearly stick out above the rest.
5. Brett Myers
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Brett Myers got off to a strong start this season, posting a 3.52 ERA in his 35 appearances with the Houston Astros.
Once he made his way over to the Chicago White Sox midseason he continued to thrive, going 3-4 while watching his ERA drop to just above 3.00.
There was plenty of interest regarding the services of Myers prior to the trade deadline, and with his performances in 2012, you'd have to think he'll be able to find somewhere to make an impact in 2013.
4. Joakim Soria
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Despite being sidelined after having Tommy John surgery this spring, Joakim Soria will still be an important part of the Kansas City Royals' plans for 2013 and beyond.
He's had a number of successful campaigns with the Royals in recent years and, when healthy, represents one of the best bullpen options in the league.
With Rafael Soriano out in New York, Soria's name has come up in conversations about an eighth inning role behind Mariano Rivera, something that could see the former Royals' closer's value increase as teams look to feel out the market.
3. José Valverde
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After receiving such lofty expectations heading into this season, it's almost hard to call 2012 a success for the Detroit Tigers as many pegged them as World Series champs in light of their offseason maneuvering.
With big money handed out to Prince Fielder last January, Detroit's checkbook may not have much room to move and the disappointing José Valverde may be a casualty as the Tigers look to remain competitive in 2013.
His postseason was far from spectacular, and as the Tigers have opted to let Valverde enter free agency, he'll have a chance to get back on the right foot with a new ballclub next year.
2. Kyuji Fujikawa
Kyuji Fujikawa has yet to play a Major League game, but he's already gaining plenty of attention as a late-inning option this offseason.
In six seasons playing in the Japan Central League, Fujikawa went 26-18 with an ERA below 1.50.
His control has always been on point, allowing 2.3 walker per nine innings while striking out nearly 13.
Fujikawa hasn't made a decision on his major league destination, but as Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports has tweeted, it looks like he's leaning towards the Angels.
1. Rafael Soriano
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With Mariano Rivera lost early in the season, the New York Yankees had a big hole to fill as they looked to piece together the back end of their bullpen.
Rafael Soriano stepped up in a big way in 2012, posting a 2.26 ERA in 69 appearances while saving 42 games—three short of his career high.
In opting out of the final year of his contract with New York, Soriano promises to attract plenty of attention this offseason, as he is the best closer option in the free-agent market.