Opt-out clauses and player options often result in no-win situations for teams, as in the cases of A.J. Burnett and J.D. Drew in offseasons past. Both players were performing well enough to opt out and score much bigger contracts, a path that C.C. Sabathia could follow after the 2011 season. My initial reaction when Scott Boras negotiated two opt-outs within Rafael Soriano's three-year, $35MM deal with the Yankees was that the team made a major concession. However, upon a closer look I'm not so sure.
The most baffling aspect of Soriano's contract is the suggestion that his $11.67MM average salary represented a drop in his price tag. If that's a discount, I can't imagine what Boras was asking for at the beginning of the offseason. In January, it wasn't even clear that Soriano had a second serious suitor.
Had he not saved 72 games over the last two seasons, I imagine Soriano's salary would have been around $6MM a year, about half what he got from the Yankees and the going rate for a top setup man. Closer inflation is the reason I don't expect Soriano to opt out of his contract at either of his chances. If he puts up a strong 2011 season but saves fewer than ten games, what team would pay him more than the two years and $23.5MM left on his contract? If Soriano sets up for Rivera in 2012 as well, what team would offer him more than $12.5MM for one year? Soriano needs to hope for relief contracts to take additional leaps forward in the next two offseasons.
The main benefit to Soriano is the chance to try for a longer term after the '11 or '12 seasons. But if you factor in a reduced setup man salary on a new deal, I'm still skeptical that he'd risk opting out. A strong 2011 might allow Soriano to find a three-year deal for around $25MM, but that's not a big enough improvement over the two years and $23.5MM that would remain on his current deal. Getting three years as opposed to one after the '12 season has added appeal, but the Yankees backloaded Soriano's contract so that it'll still be a tough choice for him. For Soriano to have a clear reason to opt out at either point, he may need to be coming off a season in which he dominates and racks up 30+ saves. Since Rivera is 42 now, that is possible.
Soriano is an injury risk, and I've seen the argument that the opt-out clauses ensure he'll remain with the Yankees if he suffers a major injury. That would have been the case anyway on a normal guaranteed three-year deal.
Aside from the Yankees bidding against themselves, the biggest concern about the Soriano contract is the potential erosion of GM Brian Cashman's autonomy, as he was said to be opposed to signing Soriano due to the loss of the #31 overall draft pick to the Rays. Co-owners Hank and Hal Steinbrenner and team president Randy Levine reportedly made the final decision to sign Soriano, though Wallace Matthew's source insisted:
"Cash has not lost one iota of credibility or autonomy over this. There has been no loss of faith in him at all. Cash is in charge of all baseball operations, but he would never in a million years tell you ownership doesn't make the final decisions. It's their money, not his."
I don’t really get this article…
just because he is the setup man for the yankees doesnt mean when he opts out he cant sign for closer money to be a teams closer…
he is setting up for the greatest closer of all time…
True, it doesn’t make closer money impossible, just less likely.
To add to that, he’s already getting closer money so even if he did opt out, who will give him more than $11 mil per? The only scenario where I see him having a good and healthy 2011 and still leaving is if NY rubs him the wrong way or if a closer job opens up in a good city/good contender and he wants to make a lateral move to return to being a closer. He strikes me as someone that really is about the money though.
The main point here is I believe the fact that he won’t get anywhere near what hes making from the Yankees even if he was a closer for another team.
Good thing he has the opt-out in case the yankees try to use him as a starter
He doesn’t have a no-trade protection so the Yanks can turn him into something of use as long as he is healthy. If the Yanks don’t look like serious contenders by July 15th and they can’t acquire a “difference maker” to improve their 2011 chances, then I could see them trading him to a contender. And it would take an honest evaluation of the team though.
Who’s going to take on that contract, though? I can’t really think of a team that could afford that contract and doesn’t already have a closer. MAYBE the Angels, but I sincerely doubt they’ll outperform the Yankees this year and I doubt you could, within reason, temper your expectations enough to disagree with me on that one.
” I know you doubt you could, within reason, temper your expectations enough to disagree with me on that one”.
You lost me there. If the Yanks are not in it, meaning a .500 club by July 31st with the roation proving to be the problem and no viable trade options materialize, then they might decide to move Soriano.
Teams that could be contenders with questionable closers (inexperienced or inconsistent) or closers w/ injury concerns.
Oakland, Rangers, White Sox, Braves or Phillies.
I would say it’s less than a 20% chance of happening but if somone offered them a decent prospect (operative word is decent and not “elite”) if the Yanks sent some cash then it could happen. I think $8 mil is Soriano’s worth so if they sent $7 milover the length of the deal in exchange for a good and a meh prospect then it could happen.
Typo, I’ve since edited the post, but I basically meant that you and I both know there’s very little chance of a team that can afford him being closer to the playoffs than the Yanks.
The Rangers, White Sox, A’s, Braves and Phillies all have closer needs, but they’re all close to tapped out budget wise, so I’m not sure any would have the room. The only team I can thing of that has the room AND the need for a closer is the Angels, and their odds of competing for a playoff spot better than the Yankees are slim.
I definetly see your point but keep in mind I was only speculating about the worse case scenario which would be the Yanks in 3rd or 4th place by mid July w/no reasonable expectations of it getting better. Obviously, that’s not something I want or expect to happen.
Worst case scenario? You say tomato…
Anyways, worst case scenario would still have to envision the Angels competing for the playoffs, which I likewise don’t see happening.
Closers get injured.
This contract is bad because it’s way too much of a monetary commitment to a setup guy with a history of injury. The opt out is stupid, but not of much consequence as I can’t imagine a feasible situation where he’d opt out. The only way I can see him opting out is if Rivera gets hurt early and Soriano has an injury free season with a good 40 or so saves and an ERA under 2. On top of that, we’d also have to see a few of the half dozen or so closer candidates out there perform poorly. Regardless of what happens with Rivera, if Papelbon finally returns to form, Soriano would be insane to opt out of that much guaranteed money.
Too many Ifs…
bottom line, is it going to be easier for him to get a 3 year deal at the age of 33 or 34?
Even if he does end up with less money per year, it may still make sense to opt out of he can get a longer contract..
That’s right, too many ifs, the biggest one being “if” he can get a longer contract, which I sincerely doubt he can, at least one that has an AAV high enough to justify giving up the massive amount of pay he’s getting from NY.
but the IF my scenario depends upon is on the current market, which his agent will be able to forecast. Thats a calculated risk…
you saying if papelbon returns, if rivera gets injured, those are uncontrollable to Soriano.
Leaving 14 million on the table in his final year would be tough to explain. However a scenario that has him opt out after his second year, to obtain a bigger contract for more years (but less money per) could be a better option than playing the final year of his contract and having that be his last multi year deal.
The younger he opts out, the more likely he is to obtain more years on a deal. Thats not an IF
More years yes, but more money? What I’m saying is that there are just as many “ifs” that go into him doing better on the market than his current contract does as. If he opts out next offseason, he’s going up against a very strong closer class. If he opts out the year after, he’s leaving $14 million on the table and no team in their right mind is going to pay him remotely close that.
I can’t see a feasible scenario where he opts out and somebody gives him enough years to justify losing out on the money the Yankees are paying him. Even if someone else were dumb enough to give him three years next year, it’s be on something like an $8 million annual salary which is such a significant drop in salary that the years aren’t really worthwhile anymore.
Still wasn’t worth losing the first round pick.
The Yankees probably figured they were going to sign Cliff Lee, so then they would be giving up their first pick no matter what.
EDIT: Never mind, forgot he was signed after Lee. Yeah, I’m not sure that was the way to go.
You really think it’ll hurt the yanks that much? So far in this century the only 2 yankee first round picks that have worked out have been Chamberlain and Hughes. Right now neither of which are on Soriano’s level. Not exactly the greatest sample size but we’re talking about giving up a lottery ticket here. Little more.
On the other side of things, the yanks now have a bullpen that likely one of the top in the league.
I think you’re overvalueing draft picks.
I had a thought recently. If draft picks were tradeable how would we value them against a proven major league player.
For instance, what would Swisher, who is under contractfor 2011 & 2012 be worth in terms of a #15-#30 pick? What would Soriano be worth?
If the Pirates didn’t want to draft Rendon and had their eyes on a player who they could get with the #5 pick then what mlb talent would be worthy of this year’s #1 pick overall?
I’m going to combine your post with start_wearing_purple’s and say that the Yankees may not value their draft picks because they’ve been unsuccessful with them. I’m a Twins fan, but I gotta use what I know. They value draft picks quite a bit, and looking at their history you can see why. Of their last 13 first round picks, 11 are still with the organization, including Mauer and Span. Their best pitching and position prospects Gibson and Hicks are also in those 11, and the rest are a mixed bag of talent including Perkins, Plouffe, and Revere, who all have MLB time, and Waldrop, who is knocking on the door.
and yet the yankees have a much better farm system than the twins
montero, like cano and sanchez and banuelos and many of their other top farm system talents, were not drafted. they were international free agent signings
i assume you know this, just clarifying that the strength of the yankees farm has almost nothing to do with drafting
Thats just an expansion of my point (sore shoulder, hard to type)
Yankees can afford to dip in to the international market, out bid some teams to land top free agents so that they can put less emphasis on the amateur draft.
Not every team can afford to sign top free agents AND have money to replenish their farm. Judging by the state of the yankees farm system, their system seems to be working just fine.
Now, while I agree that no team should give up a 1st round draft pick for a reliever. I would also add that the Yankees doing it is the most reasonable.
yeah? well screw you, buddy! (agreeing is boring)
True, but at the same time the Yanks have produced a number of mlb players thru the draft in the last 8 years.
Phil Hughes, Austin Jackson, Brett Gardner, Joba, IPK, David Robertson, Mark Melancon, Phil Coke, Mike Dunn as well as a number of their top prospects.
Very true but it still of course involves scouting. Plus who was the last non-Japaense player the Yankees were interested in and outbid other teams interested in that player also?
I would say that the Yanks DO value draft picks made evident by Cashman’s unwillingness to sign Soriano. Where the difference lies is that Cashman will give up a pick if it’s to sign an elite free agent who is going to make a major impact. The debate is, or was (I suspect), that Cash didn’t see Soriano having ENOUGH of an impact on wins to relinquish their 1st rnd pick.
When you look at the 1st rnd picks Cashman has made since give authority over the draft in 2005 he hasn’t really missed w/ the obvious exception of 2005:
2005: CJ Henry
2006: IPK and Joba
2008: Gerrit Cole
2009: Slade Heathcott
2010: Cito Culver
Too early to tell what the last two draft picks will do. Brackman looks like he will be a decent mlb pitcher.
to run with your thinking, the value would depend in large part on the quality of the draft class
this year’s draft class is freakin’ valuable
I agree. Cashman obviously likes this years class also.
There’s this weird assumption by a lot of Yankees fans since the Soriano signing that, since the Yankees haven’t had any success with them, first rounders aren’t that important.
Compare to the Sox, another large market team who are generally picking towards the tail end of the first round. Since Epstein took over in 2003, he’s drafted the following first rounders:
2003: David Murphy, traded for Gagne, still starting for the Rangers
2004: We didn’t have a first rounder (We picked Pedroia with our first pick)
2005: Jacoby Ellsbury
2006: Daniel Bard
2007: Nick Hagadone, who was used to acquire Victor Martinez
2008: Casey Kelly, who was used to acquire Adrian Gonzalez
2009, Reymond Fuentes, likewise used to get Gonzalez
2010, Kolbrin Vitek, jury’s still out on him.
You say people are overvaluing picks? I say you’re severely undervaluing them based off the fact your team’s scouting has been lackluster when determining their first rounders. The Sox pick around the Yanks year in and year out and since coming on board, Epstein’s managed to spin his top picks into valuable trade pieces and MLB players. Sure, the Yanks can go out and buy anyone, but that doesn’t mean that draft picks, especially first rounders, aren’t incredibly important.
I agree with you in saying that they are important, but I disagree with you if you think they can’t be overvalued at all. A majority of first round picks tend to be busts, and a wide margin of all star calibur players tend to be in the later rounds of draft picks. The best player in baseball was not even drafted until the 13th round.
How many picks year in and year out have the Pirates had in the first rounds and how many of them tend to be all star players?
My statement about “overvalueing” 1st rnd picks still stands. It’s all relative. Cashman will sign an elite free agent and give up a pick w/o a 2nd thought. He will however, pause when it comes to certain other Type As and the depth of the next draft class.
The Yanks HAVE had some good #1 picks since he took over those responsibilities in 2005. I listed them in a previous post.
“The Sox pick around the Yanks year in and year out and since coming on board, Epstein’s managed to spin his top picks into valuable trade pieces and MLB players”.
Yanks have done the same. Difference is, Epstein had a lot more Type A’s that have signed elsewhere than the Yanks.
Since 2005 (6 drafts): Yanks have had 9 1st and supp.picks. Sox have had 17 1st and supps.
“Yanks have done the same. Difference is, Epstein had a lot more Type A’s that have signed elsewhere than the Yanks.
Since 2005 (6 drafts): Yanks have had 9 1st and supp.picks. Sox have had 17 1st and supps. ”
Problem with this point is that I didn’t name a single supplementary pick. If I’d gotten into that, the gulf gets even wider (We’re talking guys like Buchholz and Lowrie). Epstein has a tendency to only give up a first rounder if he’s getting one back from another player. The Sox have only had two first rounders once in Epstein’s tenure (2006, after letting Damon walk, and he got Bard with that pick). So yeah, your point is effectively moot, the Sox just seem to be better at first rounders than the Yanks and that difference of a couple spots in the order can’t account for the amount of difference out there.
Seems like we are arguing semantics here.
2005: Sox had two 1st rnd picks turned into Ellsbury and Hansen. Sox also had three supps turned into Buchholz, Lowrie and Bowden.
2006: Sox had two 1st rnd picks turned into Jason Place and Bard. Sox also had two supps turned into Kristofer Johnson and Caleb Clay.
2007: One 1st and 3 supps
Does it really matter if they’re 1st or 1st supps?
Yes, it does, because your argument appears to mostly focus on the fact that the Yankees not yielding positive results from the first round is in some way indicative of the lack of importance of picking in the first round.
I omit supplemental rounders because, as you say, a higher yield of picks can in turn yield better results due to law of averages. If we omit the first rounders to eliminate the statistical advantage rendered by said law of averages, we STILL see a better result from the Red Sox, even with a minimal difference in draft position.
All this to say: first round picks are actually quite important, even to a high market team, as it can produce a mix of quality players AND trade components. For example, if the Yankees’ early round draft scouting was as good as their international scouting, perhaps they could’ve pulled off that trade for Lee, maybe even without including Montero.
Wow….not sure how we got here.
a) I never said that the 1st rnd picks were irrelevant because the Yanks were poor evaluators. In fact what I did say was…
“When you look at the 1st rnd picks Cashman has made since give authority over the draft in 2005 he hasn’t really missed w/ the obvious exception of 2005:
2005: CJ Henry
2006: IPK and Joba
2008: Gerrit Cole
2009: Slade Heathcott
2010: Cito Culver
b) What I DID say was
“I would say that the Yanks DO value draft picks made evident by Cashman’s unwillingness to sign Soriano. Where the difference lies is that Cashman will give up a pick if it’s to sign an elite free agent who is going to make a major impact. The debate is, or was (I suspect), that Cash didn’t see Soriano having ENOUGH of an impact on wins to relinquish their 1st rnd pick”.
c) I said Theo was a better talent evaluator than Cashman. YOU were making all the rant about howmany great players Theo pulled out of the 1st round and I simply said that it is easier for him to amass so many considering that he had twice as many 1st and supp picks. Contrary to what you wrote, Buchholz and Lowrie WERE NOT your regular 1st rnd picks. They were picked in the supp round. That fact really doesn’t matter though (whether they were 1st or supps). I mean is there a signifigant difference between being the 28th overall vs the 37th? Not really.
And also, I was never arguing about who was a better judge of talent in the draft. Theo has been better than Cashman. Still, when you have twice as many picks in the 1st and supp then you have greater room for error. That’s sort of common sense.
Common sense, yes, but as noted, that’s irrelevant to my examples. All of them were first rounders only and they only picked twice in the first round once. It’s not an issue of room for error, the Sox have just performed better. And I know you’re not arguing judgment of talent on its own, but it comes into play when you want to argue that first rounders aren’t all that important. The point I’m trying to make is that the Red Sox have picked close to the Yankees in every draft and have a much higher rate of success in utilizing their first rounders successfully. That is indicative of the idea that it’s less that late first rounders aren’t all that useful and more indicative that the Yankees are just not very good at evaluating first round talent.
Again…Before you even went there I said “Theo is a better talent evaluator”. What more do you want me to say?
“Common sense, yes, but as noted, that’s irrelevant to my examples. All of them were first rounders only and they only picked twice in the first round once”.
Theo was the GM for the June 2005 draft. They had two “natural” (seems to me your intent on sperating the 1st rnd from the supps) and two more in 2006.
Either way: Ellsbury, Hansen, Bard, Place, Kelly, Fuentes and Vitek are your “true”1st rnders as if it makes a difference.
AND I NEVER SAID 1ST ROUNDERS ARE UNIMPORTANT. You clearly have me confused with someone else. What I said was that for an elite talent (CC, Tex and AJ) Cash is willing to give up the 1st rnder. Please read what I said and stop putting words in my mouth.
The Opt Out was put in there for one of three reasons:
1. Non-Financial concerns. If Soriano doesn’t like NY he can opt out. Potentially he earns less money but a few extra mill isn’t a huge deal if he is miserable. And NY is just the kind of place that many players will have some apprehension about. It’s just so different than anything else that it’s hard to predict in advance how well one will adjust. Seems like (to an outsider) that people either love it or hate it.
2. Betting on Rivera Getting Hurt. Mo is up there. He could break down at any time or become less effective. Soriano may have been brought in to be a set-up guy but would it really shock anyone if ended up closing before the deal is over? Imagine if Mo goes down with a career ending injury and Soriano saves 45 games this year. He could easily opt out and get more money for years 2 or 3 (either from the Yankees or another big spending club). Of course, I’m not convinced that Rivera is even human. That dude might continue to be the best closer in baseball for another 20 years.
3. Baseball inflation. Should salaries spike for some reason Soriano has the ability to get out of his contract and re-up for more dough.
For me – I bet that it’s primarily around #2. With Rivera hurt Soriano would have tremendous leverage to extract “closer” money from the Yankees (which is probably closer to $15m/year) or get more guaranteed years/dollars from another club after proving himself in NY. I DOUBT that it will come to that but I could see the see the wisdom in adding the opt-out just in case.
I don’t know about #2. I mean 2/$25 mil IS closer money. Who, outside of the Red Sox, Yankee and maybe the Phillies would offer him that much? I think he might want to be a closer elsewhere and he may leave to return back to that role but I don’t think he’ll get a better offer than what he would be walking away from.
This past winter I thought the Yanks could sign him for 3/$24 mil. Now he walks away from 2/$25 mil to try and get more money? Don’t see it.
You close for the Yanks, rack up 45-50 saves I have no doubt that he could land a better deal than 2/$25. That is a lot of money but it’s not some astronomical amount. Plenty of closers are in that range.
SO if he gets 40-50 saves with a 2.36 ERA he’ll get a better deal than if he has no saves with the same ERA??
Everyone in the league knows he’s a closer, and knows this wasn’t a demotion for him. I really think everyone is overvaluing saves.
I don’t. To the average fan saves mean a LOT. Most casual fans can name their closers. Ask them about the guy in the 8th inning and they will give you a blank stare.
I would revise your statement to say that “Everyone should realize that they overvaluing saves.”
Also, for what it’s worth he’s got 2 years of closing under his belt. Another solid year + a need from a high payroll team = big payout.
If #2 is all about setting himself up for a huge future payday if Rivera gets hurt, why not just take Boston’s (presumably strong) one-year offer to close, rack up 40 saves there, and get a monster deal?
1. How good was the offer from Boston? I don’t recall seeing anything to suggest that he would have landed a 1/$13m type deal … but then I might have missed it. The Boston offer was probably a little complex given that they would have needed to move Paplebon (or I guess they could have non-tendered him).
2. I don’t think that he is betting on Mo getting hurt. My guess is that he wants to play in NY and wants to fulfill his contract. HOWEVER, if Mo gets hurt/performs poorly he now has the ability to opt out and negotiate a better deal. It’s an insurance policy essentially.
This is all we have from Heyman, who is pretty plugged in with Boras:
“The Red Sox showed interest in Soriano, and appeared willing to do a one-year deal for him to be their closer. Had that happened, Boston would have found a new home for Papelbon, probably Oakland or the White Sox.”
So, we don’t really know, but it had to be $10MM+.
Going based on that, its clear he made the most logical decision.
Worst case scenario on the yanks, he has a bad year and has 25 million to fall back on.
Worst case scenario on the sox he struggles and ends up having to re establish his value in order to get anywhere near 10 mil or multi year deals again.
Thanks Tim. Didn’t see that.
Agree with Lunchbox that he made the right decision. Have to wonder why the Yanks felt inclined to go 3 years @ $12m/ if the next best thing was a 1/$10 type deal.
Sabathia and Soriano both opting out could be a blessing in disguise for the Yankees. While it is a huge loss for the Yanks to lose Sabathia but he would be too big of a risk if they sign him to a say 7 year deal. CC has close to 2200 IP in his career, around 750 IP in his last 3 seasons and he would be 30 next year. If he was doc halladay then it would be fine but considering body type, I think a major injury could be down the line. Soriano is a luxury and Yankees should do fine without him
Yes this would leave a huge hole in the pitching staff as they would lose their horse. But, at the same time it would free up a lot of money which the Yankees could use in the future. The next year’s FA pitchers are not great but a Buehrle (assuming he wouldn’t retire) would be just fine for the bombers. He’s no CC but he won’t cost like one as well and at the same time give you 200IP, 3.5-4 ERA and 15+ wins. Not too shabby. They could give a shot to their young pitching prospects as well.
My point is, I would let the other teams take the gamble on an aging horse with tremendous amount of workload on his arm. We don’t want another ARod-esque deal here.
It’d be a blessing compared to giving CC another seven years starting with the 2012 season, I can see that, but the best scenario would have been him not having an opt-out and just fulfilling the original contract.
If forced to, the Yanks will give him another 7/$161 mil though.
Yanks were willing to offer Lee 7/$148 at age 32 age (as of April 1st, 2011). Sabathia will be 31 as of April 1st, 2012 so he’ll be a year younger than Lee was at the time the contract was extended. Sucks, but we need him.
Most feel that CC’s body type is what has helped him become so durable. Assuming his knee surgery wasn’t anything serious he’s never had an injury that has caused him to go on the DL I don’t believe.
If they both opt out for more money, they would both end up resigning with the Yankees anyway, so I don’t get the point of speculating.
Soriano is not necessarily going to re-sign with the Yankees if he does opt out. He certainly will not get more money either unless something happened to Rivera which would make Soriano their new closer.
Buerhle is not an ace.