Rafael Soriano Rumors

NL East Notes: Brown, Utley, Byrd, Storen, Nats

Earlier today, the Phillies placed Domonic Brown on the seven-day disabled list with concussion-like symptoms. The move was retroactive to July 24, meaning he'd be eligible to return next Wednesday. As general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. noted to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the speed with which Brown can return will have an impact on the team's decision to buy or sell heading into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Here's more on the Phillies and the rest of th NL East…

  • Also from Salisbury's piece, Amaro was hesitant to discuss reports that he and his staff are working on an extension for Chase Utley. Salisbury writes that if the Phillies don't think they can sign him long-term, they'll probably move him. When asked if Utley will be a Phillie after the deadline, Amaro replied, "I would think so."
  • Many teams are keeping an eye on Marlon Byrd whether they admit to it or not, a Major League executive told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The Mets are still planning to hang onto both Byrd and Bobby Parnell, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported today. Martino cites a source "with direct knowledge of the Mets' plans" as saying the pair will remain with the team unless they receive an offer they simply can't turn down.
  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post examines the uncertainty that surrounds the Nationals' bullpen, noting that it's possible the team could option former closer Drew Storen to the minors to rediscover himself. Storen has a 5.40 ERA and 1.46 WHIP with 9.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 41 2/3 innings this season.
  • Kilgore also notes that it's likely the Nationals will trade one of their relievers this offseason. Rafael Soriano is set to make $14MM in 2014, while Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard will both receive raises on their respective 2013 salaries of $2.5MM and $4MM via arbitration. Kilgore notes that the Nats could do what would've seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago by trading one of their relievers now in order to maximize the return.

NL East Notes: Soriano, Nationals, Mets

Rafael Soriano recently agreed to a two-year, $28MM contract with the Nationals, obtaining the second-largest deal signed by an NL East team this winter. Within the division B.J. Upton’s $75MM guarantee with the Braves remains the only deal that surpasses Soriano’s $28MM agreement. Here are some links from the NL East, starting in Washington…

  • Agents and GMs are assessing the present day value of Soriano’s deal at $11MM per season, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). Half of Soriano’s $14MM salary will be deferred each year.
  • Washington has drafted well under GM Mike Rizzo, but trades have also played a vital role in transforming the Nationals into one of baseball's best teams, as Zachary Levine of Baseball Prospectus explains.
  • One Mets insider told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork that he doesn’t believe the team has spoken to free agent starter Daisuke Matsuzaka “at all.” New York executives are looking to round out the team’s rotation, but not necessarily with the Japanese right-hander. Matsuzaka, 32, has interest in pitching for the Padres.

Nationals To Sign Rafael Soriano

The Nationals agreed to sign free agent closer Rafael Soriano to a two-year, $28MM contract, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports (Twitter links). Soriano will receive $7MM in 2013, $7MM in 2014 and the remaining $14MM in deferred payments from 2018-2025, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The deal includes a 2015 option valued at $14MM that will vest if Soriano finishes 120 games over the course of the next two seasons. Agent Scott Boras represents Soriano.

Rafael Soriano - Yankees (PW)

Soriano posted a 2.26 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 35.9% ground ball rate for the Yankees this past season. The 33-year-old saved 42 games, reaching the 40-save plateau for the second time in three seasons.

He ranked 17th on MLBTR’s list of top 50 free agents entering the offseason, and passed on two contracts that were available to him earlier in the winter. He opted out of his existing contract with the Yankees then declined New York’s qualifying offer.

The decision to decline the Yankees’ qualifying offer linked Soriano to draft pick compensation. The Nationals will lose a draft pick for signing Soriano, and the Yankees will obtain a compensatory selection for their loss. The Nationals stand to lose the 29th overall selection, while the Yankees are now poised to gain the 32nd overall selection, Jim Callis of Baseball America notes (on Twitter). Throughout the process Boras insisted he’d find a favorable deal for his client.

Soriano's deal resembles the two-year, $30MM contract Mariano Rivera signed with the Yankees before the 2011 season. Non-relievers such as Ryan Dempster, David Ortiz and Torii Hunter signed two-year deals worth a comparable amount earlier this offseason, as MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows.

Soriano joins a Nationals bullpen that includes right-handers Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus and Henry Rodriguez. Washington doesn't boast much established left-handed relief after losing Sean Burnett, Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez to free agency.

Boras represents a number of Nationals players, as MLBTR's Agency Database shows. Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Werth are also clients of the Boras Corporation. 

Nationals owner Ted Lerner was "heavily involved" in bringing Soriano to Washington, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. The Dodgers were also in the mix for Soriano, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports (on Twitter). The Yankees never engaged Soriano after he declined their qualifying offer, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Morosi that Detroit "did not seriously pursue" the reliever either.

Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse, two other Boras clients, are now the lone remaining free agents still linked to draft pick compensation. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AL East Notes: Rays, Blue Jays, Johnson

Links from the only division in baseball that featured three 90-win teams in 2012…

Dodgers Have Looked Into Rafael Soriano

The Dodgers have already spent big on their bullpen this offseason, adding Brandon League on a three-year, $22.5MM deal and J.P. Howell for one year and $2.85MM. According to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter), that hasn't stopped them from looking into the biggest name left on the relief market: Rafael Soriano.

Olney says there's only about a 20-percent chance the team goes out and signs the former Yankee stopper. That's obviously a long shot, but it's more interest than has been reported by most other clubs to date. The market for Soriano appears to be stalled due to the fact that he rejected a qualifying offer from the Yankees and will therefore require a signing team to forfeit a draft pick.

The Dodgers appear set in the bullpen with League, Howell, Kenley Jansen, Javy Guerra and Matt Guerrier. They've already shown a willingness to spend even when they appear set, however, as they've added Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu despite already having Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang in tow.

Soriano, 33, pitched to a 2.26 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 67 2/3 innings for the Bombers in 2012. He also racked up 42 saves following injuries to Mariano Rivera and David Robertson. The strong season prompted Soriano to opt out of his three-year contract, reportedly in search of a new four-year deal on the free agent market.

Four years seems to be an unlikely outcome at this point, though Soriano only needs to sign for more than $14MM to obtain more than the salary he opted out of. Agent Scott Boras recently discussed Soriano's situation with ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Boras Talks Bourn, Soriano, Lohse

Though many have expressed doubts that Michael Bourn, Rafael Soriano and Kyle Lohse will find lucrative free agent contracts, their agent suggests all three players will be just fine. Scott Boras, who represents each of the top three remaining free agents, told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that Bourn, Soriano and Lohse will do well, even if they remain unsigned as Spring Training approaches.

“People call me all the time and say, 'Man, your players aren't signed yet,'” Boras said. “Well, it doesn't really matter what time dinner is when you're the steak.”

All three players are linked to draft pick compensation after turning down qualifying offers at the beginning of the offseason (they're actually the only three free agents still linked to draft pick compensation). The Rangers have done legwork on Bourn, according to Crasnick, who notes that the Braves haven’t ruled out a reunion with the center fielder. Bourn could appeal to the Mariners, and Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik told Crasnick that he continues seeking bats.

"We have had a lot of dialogue regarding offense, but we would be open to anything," Zduriencik said.

Boras denied reports that he circled back to ask the Yankees about their interest in a one-year deal with Soriano. The Tigers continue expressing confidence in internal relief options such as Bruce Rondon, though they’re viewed as a possible suitor for Soriano along with the Blue Jays. However, Toronto would likely be reluctant to surrender a draft pick to sign the closer.

As for Lohse, the Rockies and Mets want starters, but prefer affordable options. Some view the Angels and Rangers as potential suitors for the right-hander, though their interest level remains unclear. While the Brewers could use pitching, GM Doug Melvin said he’s decided “this is the year we're probably going to go with some of our younger guys."

New York Notes: Yankees, Mets, Hairston

Earlier today we learned that while the Mets are in need of outfield depth, they won't be considering high-priced free agent Michael Bourn.  That doesn't come as a huge surprise given their financial constraints, but they could be closing in on a much more affordable outfield piece.  Here's the latest out of the Queens and the Bronx..

  • While the Mets continue to talk to Scott Hairston, it would appear that the Yankees are not as involved at the moment, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.  The Mets have a leg up over the Yankees in that they can offer him a starting job.
  • Despite rumblings to the contrary, Rafael Soriano did not offer to return to the Yankees on a one-year deal, Heyman tweets.  Soriano wants to close in 2013 and that's not an option with the Bombers.
  • The Mets picked up Terry Collins' 2013 option at the end of the 2011 season to avoid making him a lame duck, but they won't give the skipper a contract extension to circumvent that prior to the season, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.  General Manager Sandy Alderson acknowledged that there is the possibility that it could become an issue, but he expressed confidence that Collins would handle it in stride.
  • Alderson also told Rubin that regardless of whether Travis d'Arnaud starts the season in Triple-A or in the majors, the team's Opening Day catchers are likely already on the 40-man roster.  If the former Blue Jay opens the season in the minors, John Buck will probably start with waiver claim Anthony Recker in support.

Rosenthal On Padres, Orioles, Rockies, Phillies

The Orioles showed serious interest in Justin Upton before talks with the Diamondbacks sputtered, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last night. Here are some more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…

  • Rosenthal hears from one executive who expects the Padres to make another significant move. However, the Padres like their group of young starting pitchers and aren’t inclined to make a strong play for one of the remaining free agent starters. San Diego could still trade for a pitcher such as Rick Porcello, Luke Hochevar or Aaron Harang.
  • Talks about a deal involving Upton and Chase Headley didn’t progress, Rosenthal reports.
  • The Orioles continue seeking starting pitching and Joe Saunders remains a target. The Orioles also checked in on Porcello, according to Rosenthal.
  • Though the Orioles spoke with Lance Berkman before he signed with the Rangers, they weren’t interested in spending big for the switch-hitting DH.
  • Jeff Karstens, Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook and Jair Jurrjens are among the possibilities the Rockies are considering. The Rockies wouldn’t offer all of those pitchers Major League deals, however.
  • Rosenthal suggests free agent reliever Rafael Soriano could be a longshot for the Rockies. Colorado would have to surrender its second round draft pick to sign the Scott Boras client.
  • The Phillies continue seeking a right-handed hitting outfielder, Rosenthal reports. They’re still considering free agent Scott Hairston and trade candidates Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells. It’s possible the Phillies will go with platoons in both corner outfield positions.

Quick Hits: Mariners, Lohse, Soriano, Gerut

Kyle Lohse placed tenth on MLBTR's list of the offseason's top free agents, a reflection of the fact that Tim Dierkes expects the right-hander to help his next team. But unless something has changed in the last three days, Lohse hasn't received a single contract offer this winter. He’s tied to draft pick compensation after turning down a qualifying offer, and that has no doubt limited his leverage. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs argues that the hate has gone too far, showing convincingly that Lohse adds value at the plate, on the field and, of course, as a pitcher. Here are more links from around MLB…

  • The Mariners would like to add a lefty to the rotation to replace Jason Vargas, but don't expect it to be Joe Saunders or Erik Bedard, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns in a Mariners Inbox piece. If a lefty joins the rotation, it's more likely to be one of Seattle's top prospects like James Paxton or Danny Hultzen.
  • It’s still early to be assessing the way the new collective bargaining agreement shapes the market for free agents such as Lohse, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. While the market for certain players linked to draft pick compensation does seem slow, Davidoff points out that every one of these players declined a $13.3MM qualifying offer.
  • Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record hears that agent Scott Boras asked the Yankees last month if they'd consider re-signing free agent closer Rafael Soriano to a one-year contract (Twitter link). The Yankees flatly denied the request, Klapisch writes. ESPN.com's Buster Olney says the Yankees prefer the value of the draft pick and accompanying spending limit increase to the on-field value of Soriano (Twitter link).
  • Former MLB player Jody Gerut is working to reduce athlete bankruptcy in his new role as an agent with Wasserman Media Group, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports. Gerut's focusing on educating athletes, particularly Latin Americans, about how to manage their finances.

NL Notes: D’backs, Rafael Soriano, Posey, Marlins

Seven years ago today, the Diamondbacks came to terms with Justin Upton, the first overall selection in the 2005 amateur draft, on a five-year, $6.1MM contract. The deal marked the largest signing bonus given in a minor league contract for a drafted player, who was not a free agent. Today, Upton is the prime trade target of the offseason. Just within the last 24 hours, we learned there is no match with the Padres, the Braves haven't engaged in Upton talks since before Christmas, and speculation that a deal will happen as soon as Arizona is offered the right mix of players. In non-Upton news involving the Diamondbacks and the rest of the Senior Circuit: