TODAY: Soriano made his retirement official in a statement from the Blue Jays media department today, as the reliever thanked fans, teammates, and personnel from his former clubs for their support over the course of his career.
THURSDAY: Right-hander Rafael Soriano is set to retire, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post (via Twitter). The 36-year-old was set to join the Blue Jays on a minor league deal but had yet to report due to apparent visa issues.
Soriano had a short stint last year with the Cubs after waiting until mid-season to sign. He was limited due to a shoulder injury and ultimately made only six appearances with Chicago before he was released.
Before that, of course, Soriano enjoyed a lengthy run as a prominent late-inning reliever. All told, he’s racked up 636 1/3 innings of 2.89 ERA pitching with 9.1 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 over 14 MLB campaigns.
That neat summation of his career probably doesn’t do justice to the volume of interesting transactional news that Soriano provided to MLBTR readers over the years. In many ways, his career functions as a crash course in recent hot stove developments.
Soriano had uneven results in his first several seasons, but established himself as a quality pen presence with the Mariners in 2006. He was dealt to the Braves after that season and enjoyed a solid three-year run. Atlanta offered him arbitration when he hit the open market after 2009, with intentions of recouping draft compensation under the old Type A/B system, but was surprised when he decided to accept. Thus began a dizzying series of trade rumors, with Soriano ultimately heading to the Rays in exchange for Jesse Chavez.
In his lone season in Tampa Bay, Soriano turned into a dominant closer, leading the league with 45 saves and posting a 1.73 ERA in his 62 1/3 frames. Entering the open market (again, as a Type A free agent), he landed with the Yankees as Mariano Rivera’s set-up man. The deal promised the then-Scott Boras client $35MM over three years, and included two consecutive opt-outs.
Soriano’s first year in New York didn’t go as hoped, and he passed on his first opt-out opportunity. But he excelled in 2012, taking over as closer for an injured Rivera, and elected to head back to free agency. Of course, intervening rule changes had since swapped in the qualifying offer system, so this time Soriano declined a $13.3MM qualifying offer and again came with draft compensation attached to his name.
The Nationals added Soriano for two years and $28MM (with half of it deferred) on a contract that included a vesting clause. The veteran displaced an incumbent closer, Drew Storen, and ultimately gave the Nats 128 2/3 innings of 3.15 ERA pitching over a somewhat uneven tenure. (Storen ultimately re-took his closing duties, but the stage had been set for last year’s controversy and his eventual departure from D.C.)
In the aggregate, Soriano topped 200 career saves and was a net positive for the vast majority of his career. While it appears he won’t be taking a shot at a comeback, despite reportedly showing well in the Dominican winter league, Soriano has already completed a ten-year run as one of the game’s most productive overall relievers. MLBTR wishes him the best of luck in his future pursuits.