Yankees owner George Steinbrenner looked on as the deal was
announced Tuesday and gave the pitcher a hug.
"I think I was born to be a Yankee," Rivera said. "I want to
thank Mr. George to get the opportunity to stay with the Yankees
forever, have a chance to get into the Hall of Fame with the
pinstripes. That's big for me."
Rivera, MVP of the 1999 World Series and last year's AL Championship Series, helped the Yankees win four Series titles and
six AL pennants. He was 5-2 with a career-low 1.66 ERA last year and had 40 saves
in 46 chances, increasing his career total to 283.
"He's the best I've ever been around," Yankees manager Joe
Torre said. "Not only the ability to pitch and perform under
pressure, but the calm he puts over the clubhouse. He's very
important for us because he's a special person."
Rivera will make $8.89 million in 2004, the final season of a
four-year contract. He is baseball's second-highest paid closer
behind Atlanta's John Smoltz, who will make $11 million this year.
Rivera's extension calls for $10.5 million salaries in 2005 and
2006. New York has a $10.5 million option for 2007 that would
become guaranteed if he has 60 games finished in 2006 or a combined
114 games finished in 2005 and 2006.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman negotiated the deal over
the past week with Rivera's agent, Fernando Cuza.
"Without question we're talking about the best reliever, in my
opinion, in the history of baseball," Cashman said.
Neither side wanted to negotiate during the season, and Rivera didn't want to become a free agent.
"This is my home," Rivera was quoted as saying in The New York Times on Tuesday. "Why buy another house?"
Rivera put in a plug for Torre, who has been negotiating a
two-year extension this spring with general partner Steve Swindal.
As they left the news conference, Steinbrenner told Rivera:
"Now we have to get Joe, and we'll have everybody."
Torre and Swindal likely will talk again this week. Torre won't
be concerned if the extension isn't agreed to before the season
opener next week.
"You want to have it done today or tomorrow, no question,"
Torre said. "But it doesn't mean if it's not done then, it's going
to change anything."
Bernie Williams will make his spring debut as the designated
hitter in a minor league game Wednesday. Williams has been out
since having his appendix removed Feb. 26. The Yankees have to
decide by this weekend if the center fielder will start the season
on the disabled list, which would make him ineligible to return
until the home opener April 8. ... Steinbrenner said he will not
accompany the Yankees to Japan for their season-opening series
against Tampa Bay on March 30 and 31. ... SS Joaquin Arias was sent
to Texas on Tuesday to complete the Feb 16 trade that brought Alex Rodriguez and $67 million to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano.
Arias, ranked the No. 4 prospect in the Yankees' system by Baseball
America, hit .266 for Class A Battle Creek last season with three
homers, 48 RBI and 12 steals.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.