Rafael Soriano Rumors
12:29pm: Soriano has opted out of his contract and will hit free agency, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
7:45am: Rafael Soriano will opt out of his contract with the Yankees and elect free agency today, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Soriano's contract includes a $14MM player option for 2013 with a $1.5MM buyout.
Assuming the right-hander opts out, the Yankees will counter by making him a one-year qualifying offer worth $13.3MM. This would link Soriano to draft pick compensation, setting the Yankees up for a potential pick in 2013. The Scott Boras client is believed to be seeking a four-year deal, Heyman reports. Soriano probably won't accept New York's qualifying offer, but the Yankees are likely willing to give him a two-year deal.
The 32-year-old posted a 2.26 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 with 42 saves this past season. “There is a strong chance that he would have tremendous value as a free agent,” Boras told Joel Sherman earlier in the month. It's hard to disagree following such a strong season.
Here's the latest from Joel Sherman of The New York Post...
- Sherman has spoken to more than ten executives outside the Mets organization who believe the team will re-sign David Wright and relatively soon. It's a public relations move as much as a baseball move, plus getting him signed quickly will allow them to fine tune their offseason plans.
- Officials expect Wright to receive a seven-year, $127MM extension that, when combined with his $16MM club option for next year, would be worth a total of $143MM across eight years. It would make Wright the highest paid Met in history (ahead of Johan Santana) and the second high paid third baseman in history (behind Alex Rodriguez).
- “Teams no longer like paying big money for closers, there is a lot of tread on his tires and he is not known as a great guy," said one NL executive about Rafael Soriano, who is expected to opt-out of his contract with the Yankees and become a free agent this offseason.
- Sherman wonders if Jose Valverde's late-season collapse will help Soriano on the open market as the Tigers will likely look for a high-end closer. Tigers own Mike Ilitch has a strong working relationship with Soriano's agent Scott Boras.
- Former manager Tony LaRussa recently said he would not have offered more than five or six years to Albert Pujols last winter or Josh Hamilton this winter, and Sherman says the players association was not pleased. LaRussa is currently an advisor to the Commissioner and anything resembling talk of collusion from baseball's higher-ups sets off an alarm.
Scott Boras strongly hinted that Rafael Soriano will opt-out of his contract with the Yankees and become a free agent this offseason, reports Joel Sherman of The New York Post. The agent said he still has to have further conversations with the team before finalizing plans, but the Yankees are unlikely to offer an extension.
“There is a strong chance that he would have tremendous value as a free agent,” said Boras. Sherman notes that big market clubs like the Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, Red Sox, Giants, and Tigers could all be in the market for a high-end closer this winter.
Soriano, 32, pitched to a 2.26 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 67 2/3 innings this season. After Mariano Rivera went down with a season-ending knee injury in mid-May, he stepped in at closer and went 42 for 46 in save chances. Soriano signed a three-year, $35MM contract with the Yankees prior to 2010 and has the right to opt-out of the final year. He would be walking away from a $14MM guarantee in favor of a potential multiyear contract.
Sherman says Soriano and Boras have until three days after the end of the World Series to exercise the opt-out clause, and the Yankees would likely make him a qualifying offer to ensure they receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. We first heard that Soriano was likely to opt-out last month, and team president Randy Levine indicated that they want to keep the reliever in New York.
Yankees president Randy Levine addressed the team’s age, injuries, leadership and prospective free agents in a comprehensive interview with Barry Bloom of MLB.com. Here are some more highlights from his interview with Bloom:
- The Yankees aim to avoid the $189MM luxury tax threshold by 2014, Levine confirmed. “There are tremendous financial incentives to do it,” he said. “In addition to not paying the tax, there are tens of millions of dollars in revenue sharing rebates that will come back to teams like the Yankees if they stay under the threshold.”
- The Yankees must get younger to continue competing, Levine said. Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement places additional importance on player development and changes to the CBA could also lead to a “very different free-agent market,” Levine said.
- Joe Girardi and his staff have done a “good job,” Levine said. He declined to discuss Girardi’s long-term future with the team, saying only that discussions would take place at the appropriate time.
- Levine expressed confidence in general manager Brian Cashman and the team’s other front office executives. “I think everybody is great.”
- The Yankees are doing “very, very well” from a business standpoint, Levine said. He made it clear that the Steinbrenner family has no intention of selling the club, but said the Dodgers’ sale price of $2 billion “gives us something to smile about.”
- The Yankees would “love to have” Mariano Rivera come back in 2013, Levine said. “If he wants to come back, we'll welcome him back.”
- The Yankees want Rafael Soriano in New York and believe he has done a tremendous job. The closer is expected to opt out of his contract with the Yankees after the season and elect free agency.
- The Yankees will talk to Andy Pettitte this offseason if the left-hander is interested in returning for another year.
- Ichiro Suzuki “has done a good job” in New York, Levine said. As of now, however, the team is focused on 2012, not Ichiro’s next contract.
- Levine acknowledged that he’s concerned about injuries, saying the frequency of disabled list stints is “troubling.”
There’s a good chance Rafael Soriano will exercise the opt-out clause in his contract with the Yankees after the season and hit free agency early, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Soriano must choose between another year in New York with a salary of $14MM and opting out for a $1.5MM buyout and the uncertainty of the open market.
Yankees people believe they have a very solid relationship with Soriano, who’s a client of the Boras Corporation. Team executives aren’t convinced he’d opt out and pass up $14MM, according to Heyman. If Soriano opts out, the Yankees can still make him a qualifying offer valued at $13MM-plus and link him to draft pick compensation.
Mariano Rivera will hit free agency this offseason, but if he re-signs with the Yankees he’d presumably have the closer’s job and push Soriano into a setup role. The sides could also work out a multiyear deal with the idea that Soriano could set up in 2013 and close after that, Heyman writes.
Soriano, 32, signed a three-year, $35MM contract with New York following the 2010 season. He has a 2.17 ERA with 9.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and 37 saves in 58 innings so far in 2012.
Rays prospect Chris Archer will make his Major League debut on Wednesday against the Nationals, filling in while Jeremy Hellickson is on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder fatigue. Archer was ranked as the 89th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America before the season, though that was down from a #27 ranking the year prior due to Archer's fairly unimpressive 2011 campaign at Double-A. This season, Archer has a 4.81 ERA, a 10.6 K/9 rate and 90 strikeouts (against 45 walks) in 14 starts for Triple-A Durham.
Here's some other news from around the AL East...
- Rafael Soriano's success as the Yankees' closer could lead to him opting out of his contract for 2013 and becoming a free agent, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Soriano is set to earn $14MM from the Yankees in 2013, but could opt out in search of a longer-term commitment and a full-time closer's job, as Soriano will again be Mariano Rivera's set-up man if he stays in New York. Sherman argues that Soriano's experience in high-pressure AL East games could help him find the multiyear deal that eluded most closers last offseason.
- Red Sox chairman Tom Werner (in an interview with WEEI's The Big Show, as partially recapped by WEEI.com's Paul Flannery) denied Theo Epstein's recent statements about ownership pressure contributing to free agency decisions during Epstein's tenure as the team's general manager. "We don't dictate who Theo or Ben [Cherington] should sign," Werner said. "What we do is we try to give them the resources to be successful. There's a sense that non-baseball people are telling baseball people what to do, but what we do is we try to create the revenue streams for our baseball operations people to be successful."
- The Blue Jays have "been most active" in trade negotiations for Rockies' right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. We heard about Toronto's interest in Guthrie over the weekend but now that Guthrie has been moved to Colorado's bullpen, it will no doubt affect his trade value.
- Former Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail deserves some of the credit for the team's early-season success, argues Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun.
- The Orioles haven't made any progress with top two draft picks Kevin Gausman (4th overall) and Branden Kline (65th overall), tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Connolly "wouldn't be surprised if [negotiations] take a while" between the team and the two right-handers.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is expected to miss the rest of the 2012 season after tearing his ACL last week. Here are some links explaining the long-term impact of Rivera’s injury on the Yankees’ bullpen:
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggests Rafael Soriano may contemplate hitting free agency in search of a long-term contract after the season if he takes over for Rivera and pitches well. Soriano has a $13MM player option for 2013.
- David Robertson will earn considerably more through arbitration next year if he becomes the closer. The right-hander, who is under team control through 2014, could become a candidate for a long-term deal if he can handle closing, Sherman writes. An extension would keep Robertson in place for years to come and help the Yankees keep their payroll under the upcoming luxury tax threshold of $189MM.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wonders how much of a pay cut the Yankees can expect Rivera to take if they re-sign him this offseason. He suggests a 10% reduction to $13.5MM could work for both sides in 2013.
- The majority of MLBTR readers believe Robertson should replace Rivera according to our weekend poll.
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.
It sounds as though 2012 may be the final season of what will surely be a Hall of Fame career for Mariano Rivera. Here’s the latest on the Yankees and the back end of their bullpen as Spring Training 2012 gets underway...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post doubts the Yankees will spend on the best free agent closer available, though it’s a strategy they might have chosen in the recent past. Brian Cashman believes it’s unwise to sign relievers other than Rivera to significant contracts, and the GM aims to keep payroll under $189MM by 2014.
- David Robertson and Rafael Soriano are internal candidates to close if Rivera retires, as Sherman points out. Many baseball people believe the Yankees should use prospect Dellin Betances out of the bullpen, but he has just two MLB games to his name at this point.
- The Yankees don’t expect Alex Rodriguez to be a vital part of their team four or five years from now, but there’s $143MM remaining on his contract, so the team needs to get as much value as possible from A-Rod.
- The Yankees will obtain another closer, but they won’t replace Rivera, Sherman writes.
- Robertson, Soriano and Joba Chamberlain told Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger that they aren't thinking about replacing Rivera just yet.
The upcoming class of free agents figures to present an interesting study in the way teams are evaluating relievers these days. After Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, many of the most recognizable names are closers or relievers who have previously closed.
Modern analysis suggests it's foolish to invest heavily in relief pitchers due to their limited contributions and volatility in year-to-year production. But someone has to get those crucial late-inning outs, and the temptation for a team that thinks it's a contender to throw a lot of money at a guy who's coming off a year in which he posted a minuscule ERA or eye-popping strikeout rate is often too great.
Undoubtedly, suitors will use a variety of criteria to evaluate free-agent closers, one of which will be usage. Because usage can encompass so many things -- innings, appearances, pitches, "high-stress" pitches, and so on -- it's tough to say which is the most accurate reflection of a pitcher's workload; of course, this debate continues on for starters, too.
During the season, with the launch of CloserNews.com, we began keeping an eye on relievers who had pitched on three (and four) consecutive days, as that seems to be the breaking point for when most relievers must be rested. We've tallied that up here in a spreadsheet, along with a few other measures (standard and otherwise) of reliever usage, for the upcoming class of free-agent closers.
The objective here isn't to make any bold proclamations based on who threw the most innings; I may as well pen the inevitable mea culpa right now if it were. Rather, there are some interesting tidbits of note here, a few things to file away as these relievers ready themselves for free agency and teams prepare to bid.
- Heath Bell and Francisco Cordero were the only two of this group to pitch on four consecutive days in 2011. Bell is the only one to do it twice.
- Bell's abundance of pitches certainly seems to correspond with his dip in strikeout rate (7.32 K/9 in 2011 vs. 9.22 for career). Looks like he was having trouble putting away hitters, at least relative to his past performances.
- Francisco Rodriguez paced the group by pitching on three consecutive days six times.
- Heavy usage is not unusual for K-Rod, though. He's pitched fewer than 65 innings only once in his nine full big league seasons, the red herring due to an off-field incident in 2010.
- Info was culled from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.