Right-hander Joakim Soria is one of the top names on the free-agent market for relievers and is aiming to be compensated accordingly in the form of a three-year deal in the $27MM range, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark (Twitter link).
Soria, 32 next May, is considered by many to be the top relief arm on the market outside of Darren O’Day, who as of today is said to be seeking a four-year deal in the $28-36MM range himself. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the asking price for Soria has come out shortly after the same information on O’Day, though Stark does cite teams that are active on the relief market as the source of his intel.
A wide number of clubs have been linked to Soria in the early stages of the offseason, including the Tigers, Rangers, Red Sox, Twins and Royals, though SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted today that the Red Sox are out of the running in the wake of their Craig Kimbrel acquisition. He adds that Soria is open to closing or setting up — a sentiment also heard by ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link), who notes that Soria will still seek a “closer-like contract” even if he accepts an eighth-inning role. The number reported by Stark would seem to reflect that thinking.
Soria just completed a solid season split as the Tigers’ closer and a setup man for Pirates’ closer Mark Melancon. Both Soria’s 2.53 ERA and 67 1/3 innings pitched represent the best marks he has posted since an All-Star season with the Royals back in 2010. Soria missed the 2012 campaign with Tommy John surgery and struggled a bit upon returning late in the 2013 season, but his overall body of work since returning from the procedure is strong. In 135 2/3 innings post-TJ, Soria has logged a 2.99 ERA with 9.3 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 to go along with 42 saves.