Joakim Soria Rumors

Closer Options For 2013

Last offseason's Hot Stove was notable for the hefty contracts signed by the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but the abundance of closers in free agency was an interesting secondary arc. A few stoppers signed for big bucks, and if there were any takeaway, it was that many teams have not necessarily adopted a frugal philosophy with respect to bullpen spending.

The upcoming offseason's class of free-agent closers is pretty interesting, too, and several of its potential members have options for 2013. Here's a list of those pitchers and a very preliminary look at whether their options figure to be picked up:

  • Matt Capps (2013 age: 29), $6MM club option with a $250K buyout: Capps' signing this offseason was maligned after he pitched poorly in 2011, but the Twins' bullpen was pretty barren, so it may have been a devil-you-know situation. He's pitching roughly the same so far this year, but the guess here is that if they were willing to bring him back after last year, they'll be willing to do so again. He could be a trade candidate, but I'm not sure there will be takers.
  • Ryan Madson (32), $11MM mutual option with a $2.5MM buyout: The Reds will be on the hook for at least $2.5MM, so will they want to gamble an extra $8.5MM on a guy coming off Tommy John surgery? With Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall in the back of the Reds' bullpen, I think they'll pass.
  • J.J. Putz (36), $6.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout: Putz is getting on in years, and his health is always a concern (including a DL stint during his brilliant 2011), but the right-hander is really good when he's on the mound. If he can get through this year relatively unscathed in terms of injury, which is no sure thing, I think the Diamondbacks will roll the dice, seeing as the penalty for snake eyes is relatively low.
  • Joakim Soria (29), $8MM club option with a $750K buyout: Similar to the Reds and Madson, the Royals will have a tough decision to make with Soria coming off (a second) Tommy John surgery. They've been very reluctant to part with him via trade previously, so I'm thinking they'll pick up the option just to save face and see what he can yield — either in terms of on-field contributions or perhaps a trade later in the season if he comes back healthy.
  • Huston Street (29), $9MM mutual option with a $500K buyout if club declines: The Padres will likely look to trade Street before this year's deadline, so his recent injury development must make them a little nervous. He has plenty of time to get healthy before the deadline, though, and I'd expect the Friars to move hard to flip him. If they can't, they could always pick up the option and then look to trade him again next summer.
  • Grant Balfour (35), $4.5MM club option with a $350K buyout: The A's will be shopping Balfour hard before the deadline, as he'll draw plenty of interest, as MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently noted. Wherever he is, his option will look pretty attractive, with his durability and effectiveness probably trumping any concerns over his age.
  • Rafael Soriano (33), $14MM player option or a $1.5MM buyout: Soriano is very likely to exercise this option, meaning the Yankees will almost certainly be paying this hefty tab in 2013. The temptation may be there for Soriano to decline and rake in another two- or three-year deal elsewhere on the market, but he can get one of those after 2013, assuming for health.

Quick Hits: Oswalt, Cain, Soria, Votto, McCourt

We're less than 24 hours away from the first official game at Marlins Park, as the Fish show off their new ballpark in their season opener against the World Series champion Cardinals.  Here are some news bits to tide us over in the meantime…

  • The Giants' extension with Matt Cain is "a sound deal," several non-San Francisco team executives tell ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter).
  • Roy Oswalt will likely need around 60 days of preparation time to be ready to pitch, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  This fits with Oswalt's previous statement about looking at a midseason return.
  • Royals closer Joakim Soria underwent Tommy John surgery today and the medical team "couldn't have been more pleased" with the procedure, a club source tells MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.  Soria will miss the entire 2012 season recovering from the surgery.
  • Joey Votto's 10-year, $225MM extension with the Reds is "one of the crazier seeming contracts in baseball history," writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  Heyman talks to several anonymous team executives about the contract, with theories ranging from the Reds being worried about the Dodgers' aggressive new ownership to the Reds being able to afford Votto thanks to several years of collecting luxury tax payments.  Then again, one competing GM says simply, "The Reds look like they have no plan."
  • Attorneys for Major League Baseball made a court filing arguing that the Dodgers shouldn't be allowed to emerge from bankruptcy until the team pays back $8.3MM worth of bills from the league, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at how some recent big contracts around baseball could impact the Cardinals.  Miklasz thinks that Cain's deal will make Adam Wainwright's next contract even more expensive, but I don't agree, given that Wainwright is three years older and has a more checkered injury history.
  • Several Padres players, as well as several players from the entire NL West and AL West, are discussed by opposing scouts in a chat with Tom Krasovic of Inside The Padres.

Quick Hits: Escalona, Duke, Garza, Soria, Lawrie

"I think very highly of my client," said Zack Greinke's agent to Brewers management when the two sides opened extension talks according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Greinke, of course, represents himself. The right-hander and his sense of humor will hire an agent at some point, but for now here are some links from around the league…

  • The Astros announced that left-handed reliever Sergio Escalona will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the season. "This probably makes us think about [Zach] Duke’s role if he doesn’t win a spot in the rotation," said GM Jeff Luhnow to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart (Twitter link).
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told ESPN's Jim Bowden that he wants to sign Matt Garza long-term and build around the right-hander rather than trade him (Twitter link).
  • "I hope I stay here in Kansas City," said Joakim Soria to MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. Soria will miss the season with Tommy John surgery, and the Royals hold an $8MM club option for his services in 2013. "I love this organization, I feel part of this family and I appreciate what they've done for me."
  • "I needed a fresh start. I needed a new team," said Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie to ESPN's Jayson Stark about his trade from the Brewers. Lawrie feels Milwaukee tried to change his effusive personality, though GM Doug Melvin disagrees.
  • John Grabow and Jamey Wright will earn $800K and $900K, respectively, if they make the Dodgers according to Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). Both pitchers have incentives based on appearances, maxing out at $500K (Wright) and $200K (Grabow).


Quick Hits: Nationals, Blue Jays, Soria, Carpenter

Two weeks from now, the regular season will be underway. In the meantime, here are some links, including injury updates on a trio of pitchers…

  • "We are pretty comfortable with the team that we have right now," said Nationals GM Mike Rizzo to reporters (including MLB.com's Bill Ladson). "If something comes up to improve ourselves, we'll certainly investigate it. We are not selling anybody or shopping anybody or making a lot of phone calls, because we are comfortable where we are at."
  • The Blue Jays have five roster spots up for grabs – left field, fifth starter, utility infielder, two bullpen spots – but there are clear frontrunners for each job according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. The team doesn't want to delay any official moves, but they also want to make sure everyone gets enough playing time to audition for jobs.
  • Royals closer Joakim Soria will undergo Tommy John surgery on April 3rd, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports (Twitter links).
  • Chris Carpenter is out indefinitely with a nerve issue, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told reporters, including MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch (Twitter link). Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests Carpenter will likely miss two months or more (Twitterlink).
  • Joba Chamberlain dislocated his right ankle and lost a life-threatening amount of blood yesterday, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News reports. The injury will end Chamberlain's season and could threaten his career.
  • One scout says Mark Reynolds isn't appealing, especially given his $7.5MM salary, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweets. The Orioles are shopping Reynolds and teammate Kevin Gregg.
  • Padres owner John Moores could earn a substantial profit when he sells his team, partly because bidders who fail to purchase the Dodgers may view Padres as consolation prize, Jon Paul Morosi writes at FOX Sports.
  • Former All-Star reliever Chad Cordero tells Jonathan Hacohen of MLB Reports that he's getting the itch to play again and will attempt to come back to the Major Leagues in 2013. The 30-year-old reliever took time off to deal with the death of his infant daughter, but he's not ready to give up on baseball yet.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


AL Central Notes: Soria, Baker, Antonetti

Here's the latest from the AL Central…

  • Royals closer Joakim Soria has suffered "definite damage" in his right elbow's UCL, GM Dayton Moore told media (including Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star) today.  Soria will visit Dr. Lewis Yocum on Tuesday to determine if Tommy John surgery is necessary and, if so, it would be the second time Soria has undergone a Tommy John procedure in his career.  Greg Holland and Jonathan Broxton would seem like the top candidates to close games for the Royals in Soria's absence, but to keep tabs on the situation, follow MLBTR's Tim Dierkes on Twitter @CloserNews.
  • Some baseball people "have said for a while" that the Royals should've traded Soria while his value was at its highest, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Soria had an off-year by his standards in 2011 but still drew some trade interest over the winter, with Kansas City demanding a top starting pitcher in return. 
  • Even if Scott Baker struggles in 2012, the Twins could still be justified in picking up his $9.25MM option for 2013, writes John Bonnes of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti discusses Shin-Soo Choo, the importance of assembling a good defensive corps to help a pitching staff and several other topics with Grantland's Jonah Keri.

Morosi On Blue Jays, First Base, Starters, Cespedes

The baseball world figures to remain relatively quietly until after the New Year, but as Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes, there is still a lot of work to be done before the season begins. Let's round up Morosi's rumors…

  • The Blue Jays are saying they will not give a hitter a contract of more than five guaranteed years, though they'll likely have to violate that policy if they want to sign Prince Fielder.
  • The Brewers, Cubs, Nationals, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Rays, and Pirates are all considering non-Fielder upgrades at first base. Carlos Pena, Casey Kotchman, and Derrek Lee remain unsigned, among others.
  • Some within the game believe that Joakim Soria and Carlos Marmol could be had at the right price. The Cubbies are said to be planning a "complete and total rebuild."
  • Both Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook remain available, and the Rangers may be willing to trade Matt Harrison for a more established starter.
  • Most believe Yoenis Cespedes will sign for more than the $30.25MM Aroldis Chapman received because as a position player, he carried less risk. A larger number of interested teams and the new collective bargaining agreement will also help his cause.

Red Sox Inquired On Joakim Soria

The Red Sox had discussions with the Royals about the possibility of dealing for closer Joakim Soria, multiple sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.  The talks have failed to progress, however, with Kansas City seeking the type of players that Boston doesn't want to part with for Soria.

Soria is coming off of a down season in which he turned in a 4.03 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 60 appearances.  However, the 27-year-old remains attractive thanks in part to his contract which will pay him $6MM in 2012 and has club options of $8MM and $8.75MM for '12 and '13, respectively. 

It' s important to note that Soria's contract includes a limited no-trade clause in which he can block trades to the Red Sox and five other clubs.  The other teams on that list are the Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Rockies, and Braves.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Royals were willing to listen on Soria but wanted a frontline starter in return.


Closer Rumors: Madson, K-Rod, League, Street, Soria

The Blue Jays, Twins, and Marlins added closers in recent days, and it's not clear whether the remaining teams with ninth inning openings are willing to spend big.  The latest on several closers…


Royals Rumors: Soria, Holland

The Royals are downplaying it, but they would trade closer Joakim Soria for a starting pitcher and would also discuss reliever Greg Holland, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Soria, 27, is potentially under contract through 2014.  Holland is drawing interest from the Blue Jays and others after a breakout season.  Either player would require a significant bounty.


Blue Jays, Others Interested In Greg Holland

The Blue Jays are in the market for a closer, and they have interest in Greg Holland of the Royals according to Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star (Twitter links). They don't have interest in Joakim Soria, and yesterday we heard that Kansas City has some interest in Colby Rasmus.

Dutton says that other clubs are interested in Holland as well, but the Royals are not inclined to move him unless they're overwhelmed with an offer. The 26-year-old right-hander broke out as Soria's setup man last season, pitching to a 1.80 ERA in 60 IP. He struck out 11.10 batters per nine innings and walked just 2.85 per nine, getting a ground ball 44.9% of the time. Holland is under team control through 2016.