NEW YORK -- Ever since Mariano Rivera announced that the 2013 season would be his last, it has been widely assumed the Yankees would promote from within, moving David Robertson, their incomparable Eighth-Inning Guy, to the closer's role, much the way they elevated Mo to John Wetteland's spot in 1997.
But now, with Joe Nathan on the free-agent market after not being given a qualifying offer by the Texas Rangers and a few other proven closers (Fernando Rodney and Grant Balfour, to name two) on the market, the Yankees might be toying with the idea of bringing someone else in to pitch the ninth inning in 2014 and keeping Robertson in the role in which he has excelled for the past three seasons.
"It's on the list of potential things that [the Yankees] are looking at," a source with knowledge of the club's inner workings told ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday. "It may not be at the top of the list, but it's there."
The same source told me the Yankees would be interested in Nathan, who had an outstanding year for Texas -- 43 saves in 46 chances, a 1.39 ERA and 0.897 WHIP compared with Mo's 44 of 51, 2.11 ERA and 1.047 WHIP -- except that Nathan, who will turn 39 on Nov. 22, is said be seeking a three-year deal. The chances of another closer finding success in his 40s are slim to none, since Rivera was the only one in history really to have done it.
The Yankees might be advised to look at Balfour, who had 38 saves and blew only three for Oakland last season, or even their old pal Rodney, who makes the ninth inning as interesting as Robertson often makes the eighth.
Yanks GM Brian Cashman refused to confirm that a new closer was on his shopping list this winter, but since the Yankees went out and signed Rafael Soriano as insurance for Rivera three years ago, who's to say they won't do the same with Robertson?
QUESTION: Are you comfortable with Robertson as the new closer? Or would you rather see the Yankees bring in a proven closer and keep D-Rob in his eighth-inning role?