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Joakim Soria Rumors
The Royals announced that they've declined their 2013 option for Joakim Soria. The reliever, who missed the entire 2012 season to undergo Tommy John surgery, is now a free agent. He obtains a $750K buyout instead of an $8MM salary.
Soria established himself as an elite reliever in the five seasons preceding 2012. Though he struggled in 2011, his career numbers are excellent — a 3.40 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 298 total appearances. If the Royals had exercised his 2013 option they would have kept the rights to a 2014 option valued at $8.75MM.
MLBTradeRumors is introducing a new series in which two comparable free agents are analyzed side by side. Each post will conclude with a reader vote on the value of the two players.
Coming into the season, Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria were two of baseball’s truly elite relievers. They combined to throw zero meaningful pitches in 2012. Both right-handers missed the season with Tommy John surgery and will hit the open market as free agents this winter. They figure to be in high demand despite their injuries, but is one preferable to the other?
Madson, 32, has just one season as a closer to his credit (2011), but from 2009-2011 he was a high-strikeout (9.6 K/9) and low-walk (2.4 BB/9) late-inning reliever for the Phillies. His best pitch is a low-to-mid-80s changeup, a pitch that generally puts less stress on the elbow than sliders or curveballs. In addition to the elbow reconstruction, Madson has missed time with a hand contusion (2011), a toe fracture (2010), and a shoulder strain (2007) in recent years.
Soria, 28, is actually recovering from his second Tommy John procedure. He’s been closing games since the middle of 2007, and owns a 9.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 for his career. Soria is the rare four-pitch reliever, using two breaking balls (slider and curveball) in addition to his changeup and low-90s fastball. He missed time with a shoulder strain in 2009 and an oblique strain in 2011.
The Royals intend to buy out Soria’s club option for next year and negotiate a new deal, but either way he and Madson will have little trouble landing work this offseason given their pedigrees. Almost every team will have interest in signing one or both guys to one-year, low base salary, incentive-laden contracts in the coming weeks.
Earlier today, ESPN's Buster Olney said we shouldn't be surprised if the Royals trade one of their core homegrown bats for starting pitching this offseason. Here's the latest on the club courtesy of The Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton…
- “I think it’s pretty safe to say he’s going to explore free agency,” said GM Dayton Moore, acknowledging that they're unlikely to agree to a new contract with Jeremy Guthrie during the exclusive negotiating period. “We’ll continue to monitor how that goes. He’s going to explore his options, and it’s important that we do as well.”
- Talks about a new contract with Joakim Soria are ongoing. The Royals are expected to buy the right-hander out of his $8MM option following his second Tommy John surgery. Moore described the discussions as "moving at (their) own pace."
- Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times notes that the Royals have been heavily scouting Mariners left-handed pitching prospect James Paxton in the Arizona Fall League. Dutton wonders if the two teams could work out a trade involving one of Kansas City's bats given Seattle's need for offense.
As the Tigers prepare to face the A's in the deciding game of their ALDS series, here's the latest from the AL Central…
- The Tigers "had a de facto deal" with Yoenis Cespedes last winter, reports Peter Gammons for MLB.com, before the Tigers instead chose to sign Prince Fielder. Cespedes, of course, signed with the A's instead and now could play a role in the end of Detroit's season.
- Brennan Boesch wasn't on the Tigers' playoff roster and his "days likely are numbered in Detroit," writes Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press. Boesch hit a disappointing .240/.286/.372 last season and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, so the Tigers might not tender him a contract. Sharp hints that Rick Porcello could also be non-tendered (Porcello is arb-eligible for the second time), though with so many pitching-needy teams in baseball, the Tigers might be better served by dealing Porcello than cutting him outright.
- The reported out clause in Terry Francona's Indians contract that allows the manager to leave if GM Chris Antonetti or president Mark Shapiro are fired is not a big deal, opines Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Shapiro and Antonetti owe their futures with the Tribe to Francona" already, Pluto argues, so if the team continues to struggle, a total change in front office and field management is the logical next step.
- The Indians are much more likely to pursue upgrades through the trade market than through free agency, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- “It’s better for me and my family (to stay with the Royals)," Joakim Soria tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. "My wife is pregnant. I’m just focusing on my rehab. The most important thing is for me to get healthy. After that, everything else will come together." Dutton says that Royals team officials "privately acknowledge" that Soria's $8MM option for 2013 will be bought out within three days of the World Series ending, though both sides are interested in reaching a new contract.
The Royals are expected to decline their $8MM team option on Joakim Soria for the 2013 season and instead buy the closer out for $750K, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Despite the buyout, the Royals are interested in bringing Soria back and "both sides have expressed interest in working out a new deal."
Soria has just begun throwing for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March, the second time that he has undergone the procedure in his career. The right-hander was looking to rebound after a somewhat disappointing 2011 season by his standards, posting a 4.03 ERA with career-worsts in H/9 (9.0) and HR/9 (1.0) over 60 1/3 innings. The Royals also held an $8.75MM club option on Soria for the 2014 season.
A new contract with Soria would be the best-case scenario for Kansas City, as while Soria is still too valuable a commodity to let walk for nothing, $8MM is a large chunk of payroll to tie up in a closer coming off a second Tommy John surgery. Any deal that Soria signs this winter will be short-term and modestly-priced given his injury history, though Soria's track record would definitely earn him a lot of interest if he reaches free agency.
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.
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.
"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).
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.
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.