Jesse Chavez Rumors
The Rays made their deal for Braves reliever Rafael Soriano official today, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. He says the Rays came to terms on a one-year, $7.25MM deal with Soriano, who was acquired from Atlanta for reliever Jesse Chavez. A reminder on how this all played out:
On December 1st, the Braves made arbitration offers to Type A free agent relievers Soriano and Mike Gonzalez, expecting both to decline. The Braves moved quickly to sign Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito in the days following, making it clear that Soriano and Gonzalez would have lesser roles if they returned. Gonzalez, a Scott Boras client, declined arbitration. But after his agent talked to teams all day Monday at the Winter Meetings, Soriano decided the best move was to accept arbitration (otherwise, he would've cost his signing team a draft pick). The Braves held talks with the Orioles, Astros, and Rays at the Meetings, eventually shipping Soriano to Tampa Bay for Chavez. So the Braves hoped to get two draft picks for the loss of Soriano, but instead received five years of Chavez.
And from the Rays' point of view...back in November, a few days before they had to decide between second baseman Akinori Iwamura's $4.85MM option and a $550K buyout, they traded him to the Pirates for Chavez. It was a solid move, Chavez being under team control through 2014. Still, he wasn't a guy to whom they'd hand over the ninth inning. The Rays were expected to add a few bargain free agents to compete for the closer job, with owner Stuart Sternberg saying on December 6th, "There is no $7 million closer showing up." Maybe Sternberg was being literal, as the Rays sent Chavez to the Braves and now have a $7.25 million closer.
7:18pm: Joe Smith of the St. Petersburg Times says it's a "done deal." It'll be announced tomorrow.
6:29pm: David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says the deal hasn't been finalized yet. The doctors didn't look at all the reports today, but it should go through tomorrow.
4:38pm: MLB.com's Mark Bowman says the medical reports have been reviewed and the Rafael Soriano-Jesse Chavez swap has been finalized.
11:00am: Rosenthal and Morosi say the Rays will sign Soriano for one year and $7MM or slightly more; the deal will be official after medical records are exchanged. They say Soriano's contract will be non-guaranteed.
10:16am: Rosenthal tweets that the Rays are negotiating a one-year deal with Soriano, and terms must be reached before the trade can become official. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick believes this deal should be done by day's end once the Rays look at Soriano's medicals.
1:30am: Topkin says the Rays will pay all of Soriano's salary, whatever that may be. The two sides don't necessarily have to go to arbitration even though Soriano accepted, they could even work out a multi-year deal.
THURSDAY, 12:55am: SI.com's Jon Heyman says that Soriano has been traded to Tampa, pending medical review.
11:38pm: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays and Braves are "close" to a deal for Soriano. It could be completed tomorrow.
10:08pm: David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves and Rays could finalize a deal for Soriano as early as tomorrow morning.
8:05pm: They may not be frontrunners, but the Rays are talking to the Braves about Soriano, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown.
5:16pm: The Braves don't consider any team the frontrunner for Soriano, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
3:23pm: Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports suggests the Rays are the frontrunner for Soriano, assuming they'll expand their payroll to fit him in. ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets that the Rays are very interested but are balking at the money and players involved. Funny to note that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg recently told Roger Mooney, "There is no $7 million closer showing up."
2:36pm: ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Braves want a solid return for Soriano and want the other team picking up the tab. Not sure they have the leverage for that.
1:52pm: Rosenthal tweets that the Rays and Astros are vying for Soriano. Note that the Astros just lost LaTroy Hawkins to the Brewers.
WEDNESDAY, 8:36am: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Angels are another suitor for Soriano. Makes sense, given Brian Fuentes' struggles.
TUESDAY, 6:31pm: Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald says the Red Sox are unlikely to be suitors for Soriano. Meanwhile, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution says the Yankees, Astros and Orioles have interest in Soriano. Braves GM Frank Wren confirmed to O'Brien that at least one team has interest in both Soriano and Derek Lowe.
4:09pm: Reliever Rafael Soriano has already given Braves GM Frank Wren trade clearance, tweets MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Wren said he's already had discussions with multiple teams. Soriano accepted the Braves' offer of arbitration last night, perhaps in an effort to skirt draft pick compensation.
The Orioles, Astros, and Red Sox appear to be potential suitors for Soriano, based on previous reports. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted earlier today that the Yankees are not interested in trading for him.