Whatever Scottie wants…

Keppinger goes under the knife
Oh hey, look at that, the Yankees aren’t interested in Soriano

The Yankees have millions to spend. After missing out on Cliff Lee and with Andy Pettitte off of their payroll ledger for now, the Bombers are going to be hard pressed to spend their $200 million. The team finds itself in this situation unwillingly, and everyone in baseball knows it.

Enter Scott Boras. No one can sniff out a money trail better than Boras. Despite the fact that he’s been operating in the league for what seems like eons, he still manages to eke out more dollars for his top clients than anyone else. He creates mystery teams and player comps that leave most people rolling their eyes in amusement, but when the Hot Stove League cools, his clients manage to get their paydays. Adrian Beltre can attest to that.

Right now, Boras can smell blood. As Mike detailed earlier, Boras is trying to get the Yanks interested in Rafael Soriano, and while the Yanks would love to add the former Tampa Bay closer to their bullpen, they’ll do so at his price. It’s time, in other words, for a standoff between two of the game’s top financial institutions.

When it comes to Soriano, Boras is saying all the right things. In an extensive interview with ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand, Boras laid it on hot and heavy. “That door is open for a number of different reasons…I don’t think there is a team in baseball where he could be asked to be a setup guy other than the Yankees,” Boras said of his free agent client who clearly wants a good job next year. “There is also a value in playing with Mariano Rivera.”

Boras clearly is trying to sell Soriano to the Yanks as Rivera’s heir apparent, but it might be a tough sell. Rivera will pitch in the Bronx for at least two more seasons, and the Yankees aren’t going to want to give Sorianonear-closer money to set up for three years just so he can close in 2013. Brian Cashman and the Yanks have learned over the last few seasons that it’s easy to build a bullpen out of low-cost players, and the marginal win upgrade that established bullpen arms bring isn’t usually worth the additional salary. Will having insurance for Rivera change that approach? I wouldn’t bet on it.

But Soriano can be a useful piece for the Yanks. While we might not want to face the facts, Rivera is 41, and the Yanks could do with another arm behind him. It would also free up Joba Chamberlain as either a starting rotation — my unrealistic pipe dream that flies in the face of Cashman’s words — or as a trade chit for a pitcher. If the Yanks can lower Boras’ asking price, this is a match that could just work.

But Scott Boras isn’t stopping with just Soriano. He’s again beating the Johnny Damon drum. “As Johnny has said he is more than willing to return to New York,” Boras said.

Now, Boras was of course the agent who told Damon not to sign a two-year deal with the Yanks after the 2009 season and who didn’t get Johnny a better deal. This year, Boras is trying to do right by Damon, but the Yankees again aren’t interested. They don’t need an old lefty bat who plays suspect defense in left field. Rather, they need a right-hand power bat or a defensive fourth outfielder who can hit better than, say, Greg Golson. Damon wants more playing time than the Yanks would give him, and it’s just not a fit.

So here we will have to watch Boras go to work. He has two clients who want to get paid, and he has a target who has money to spend. Even as we hit a slow stretch of the off-season, it’s worth watching these two dramas unfold. Can a master agent who gets more money for his clients than would seem possible pull it off now? The Yankees are clearly in his sights whether they want to be or not.

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Keppinger goes under the knife
Oh hey, look at that, the Yankees aren’t interested in Soriano
  • bonestock94

    No thanks

  • Jay

    Rivera is 41 not 43…dont you add on two more years like that!

  • Angelo

    Unless it’s a one year deal, (which Soriano can easily top) I wouldn’t even bother with, Soriano. Too much risks, money, and the Yankees would lose their 31st pick in a great draft.

    It just wouldn’t make sense to go after him because of those reasons, but I’m sure Boras will try and I would not be too surprised to see him succeed. I just hope he doesn’t.

  • http://incumbentgm.wordpress.com Joe DiMaggio’s Ego-Ghost

    The bullpen seems fine to me. Unless he comes at a good price (nope) he can pitch somewhere else.

    So when are we getting a starter? I.e., who’s coming to us in a Joba trade? ;)

  • Yyzz

    Convert Soriano into a starter!
    Has that been suggested yet?

    • YankeesJunkie

      Honestly, the person that got screwed the most by not being converted to a starter…

      Colter Bean

      • Rob (Not the Bad)

        That’s funny.

    • Mister Delaware

      Soriano came up as a starter.

      2011 Rotation: Sabathia, Hughes, Soriano, Joba, Mariano
      Closer: Burnett

  • mustang

    Waited it out and see if they can get him at a good price (3 years 24 or 27).

    He would:
    1- Make the bullpen one of the best if not the best in baseball.
    2- Be a nice insurance policy for Mo
    2- Could free

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      I’m not sure $9 million a year for three years of an injury-prone reliever who’s going to set up for most of that time is a good price. I was thinking 3/21 max. It won’t get that low at all.

      • mustang

        What you’re paying for is arguably the second best closer in the game. If they don’t sign Andy they have lots of budget room. We are talking 3 years and with no Ace types in the next free agent class why not?

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          This guy is the second best closer in the game and perhaps the best right now. I think you’re overinflating Soriano’s track record and current value.

          • mustang

            Yes but that guy well cost both money and prospect and is currently unavailable.

            • Tim

              But he will be available in July. And Soriano also costs both a prospect and money – the prospect being the first round pick.

              • mustang

                No knows that for sure and the Yankees will be dealing with a lot more teams for his services and looking at getting starting pitching more then likely. One draft pick will not equal the package they would need to get Soria.

                • mustang

                  No one knows..

      • mustang

        “I’m not sure $9 million a year for three years of an injury-prone reliever ”

        What reliever isn’t injury-prone?

        “2009_Soria had injuries but he finished the year strong with a 3-2 record with 30 saves out of 33 chances.”

    • mustang

      3-Could free up Joba for or make RAB nation’s dream come true a starter.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        I’d like to see that happen although it probably won’t

  • Andrew518

    Gives me memories of ’96…

    Good but not great rotation + Lights out bullpen = success

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      I am thinking along the same lines. The starting rotation is very suspect at this point. The way to counter that is to try to shorten the amount of innings you’ll need from your starters, namely the 3-4-5. Adding Soriano means you’ll need one less inning from the backend starters on a regular basis. Sabathia and hopefully Hughes will be able to pick up the slack on other nights.

      If Nova is going to be an actual option at #5…well, we all saw what happened last year. Four good innings and, for some reason, hit a wall in the fifth. I’d expect him to get past that this year, but even then you might only be looking at five to six innings from him regularly.

      Of course, we should also expect Burnett to be able to reach the seventh, even eighth once in a while. As bad as he was last year, he did manage to get through seven innings in 1/3rd of his starts and through six innings in 20 of his 33 starts.

      The Yankees can’t go into next season with Pedro Feliciano as their big offseason “upgrade.” Not from a “Boston spent a lot of money and made some big moves, so we have to as well” standpoint. More that if you can strengthen your team, especially one that had plenty of flaws last season, why wouldn’t you do it? Hey, the 1990 Reds had essentially three closer quality relievers on their team and it turned out pretty good for them. Why can’t the Yankees have two?

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        “The Yankees can’t go into next season with Pedro Feliciano as their big offseason “upgrade.” Not from a “Boston spent a lot of money and made some big moves, so we have to as well” standpoint.”

        Yea, basing your moves and changing your entire team philosophy because of another team’s actions. What a great idea! Why not trade Montero and the Killer B’s since Boston replaced Adrian Beltre with Adrian Gonzalez and added Carl Crawford and Bobby Jenks?

    • mustang

      Agree!

  • Jeffrey

    A lot of attention has been given to Pettite leaving and what that means to the rotation, but few mention the loss of Kerry Wood and what that means to the relief staff. He had a 0.69 ERA with the Yankees and I don’t think that Feliciano will replace him. He was obtained at mid-season because the bullpen just wasn’t getting it done.

    I know that relief pitchers are overvalued, but I think that the Yankees are looking for someone to take up the slack left by Wood who ideally would be a candidate to replace Mo who, by definition being 41 is a big injury risk.

    I have the sensation that their interest in Soriano is real and they are taking their time because he does not have a clear market.

    • kosmo

      frankly I don´t see Wood at the age of 33 with a propensity for high BB totals as an ideal candidate to replace Rivera ??? His 0.69 ERA would inflate to something around his career average of 3.65 over a stretch of 65-75 innings.Me thinks.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        2nd this, look at Wood’s secondary stats, that 0.69 was in line for a big correction. Don’t get me wrong, love me some Kerry Wood while he was with us, but he was WAY lucky.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Yanks biggest upgrade will be Jesus Montero. We are a top, contending team playing lots of close games against tough teams. Soriano had 45 saves and appeared in 64 games last year. That is healthy enough for me. He just turned 31 and has pitched less innings thus far in his career than Mariano had. Mariano was pretty valuable as a setup guy years ago. Perhaps, perish the thought Yankee fans, Soriano might turn out to be BETTER than Mo the 41/42 year old closer? Is Mo incapable of getting old, injured, ineffective, pitching back to back? is any of this possible?

  • OldYanksFan

    If the Yankees spend $10m/yr on Soriano, does that hamper their ability to get a stud SP as a salary dump mid-season?

    PATIENCE!

    • mustang

      No.

    • mustang

      Andy 15 + Soriano 8 or 9= Lee’s yearly average 24.

      • mustang

        You can remove Andy and replace him with “stud SP as a salary dump mid-season” if he retires.

  • dan genovese

    sign him , we have not done anything……………….!

    • pete

      airtight logic right there.

  • mustang

    “Rafael Soriano says he’d be willing to be a setup man for the Yankees. It takes two to tango, however, and Buster Olney says that the Yankees aren’t particularly interested in dancing:

    Heard this: As of 6 p.m. on Thursday, the Yankees are not interested in Rafael Soriano. They’ve seen a lot of $ squandered on set-up men … Soriano would have to make himself absurdly cheap — on a very short-term (1-year or 2-year deal) — before NYY would even consider him

    So there’s that.

    Tough market for Soriano. I guess 45 saves and a 1.73 don’t go as far as they used to.”

  • Garrius

    Perhaps Boras is just getting Yanks involved in the hope that other teams will be more proactive in trying to sign Soriano. Even if the Yanks aren’t particularly interested, they could still try to help Boras out by staying quiet. That way, when the next Mark Teixeira comes, the yanks will have a foot in the door.

    • Fair Weather Freddy

      Its always in the player’s and agent’s best interests to have the Yankees involved or at least flaot the idea out there that they are interested. Cashman smart enough not to play that game though.

  • hstuda

    The Yankees should absolutely 100% go after Soriano. Barring considerable growth from Phil Hughes and massive improvement from AJ Burnett — both developments the team can not in any way count on — the rotation will be mediocre and this team will not be competitive with Boston or Philadelphia. Yet, given that Jeter, A-Rod, and Mo’ have a limited number of productive years remaining, and that Tex and CC are right in their prime years on long-term deals — Cash can’t simply write this year off as a year in transition. This team is committed to a lot of long term contracts that are only going to become greater liabilities. So Cash needs to make a concerted effort to win now, and that means going after Soriano. If the Yanks get Soriano, that gives them a pen with enough talented arms to somewhat offset what will likely be a middling rotation. Getting Soriano doesn’t just mean getting an elite set-up man, it means moving every reliever back a slot on the depth chart. Thus arms like Chamberlain, Robertson, Logan, and Feliciano can be utilized to get out of middle-inning jams rather than late-inning ones. As a result, this team will have a better chance to win games when its starting pitching falters (which it will almost certainly be doing quite a bit).

    I know getting Soriano means overpaying for him. But whatever the Yankees spend, it’ll be mere drops in the bucket compared to the massive overpayment Lee and/or Crawford would have received. Even something like 3 years/40-million wouldn’t be too bad, especially considering that this team has a 41-year-old closer.

    • Danimal

      +1

      I couldn’t have said that better.

  • AJ

    Don’t tell Scottie, Scottie doesn’t know.