What it means: The Yankees have a good chance of weathering the defection of Rafael Soriano without suffering any collateral damage, provided Mo comes back to his former effectiveness, or at least close to it.
Quick refresher course: The Yankees lost Rivera, statistically and by just about any other measure the greatest closer in baseball history, to a freak injury suffered in the outfield in Kansas City in early May when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while shagging batting practice flies. Despite blowing a save in the first game of the season, Mo's season was off to a good start, with five saves in six opportunities and a 2.16 ERA.
Now we know the answer: To the question that dominated last spring training and the early part of the 2012 season, when Mariano coyly dropped some hints that 2012 would be his last season. Without the injury, there are plenty of people, including members of the Yankees organization, who believe it would have been, but, as he said quite strongly the day of the injury, Rivera was not about to go out that way.
The risks: A few. For one thing, his age -- Rivera will turn 43 on Nov. 29. For another, the history of closers, none of whom has been effective for a full season at that age. For a third, re-signing Mariano almost certainly means letting Soriano go, leaving the Yankees with no proven closer to back Mo up should he get injured again.
The rewards: Boundless. Having Rivera back at full strength means having the best player ever at his position locking down the ninth inning for you, but you knew that already. As always, the problem will be getting through the first eight.
Quote of the day: From Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who told Andrew Marchand: "He wants to play again. I'll work with his agent, Fernando Cuza, on the details of a new contract."
Question of the day: How much does getting Mo back encourage you for next season? A lot? A little? Or, based on what you saw this October, do the Yankees' problems run deeper than who pitches the ninth inning? Let us know in the comments section below, and thanks for reading.