The Expensive Luxury will return

Noesi roughed up in winter ball debut
References for Sabathia's next contract
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Brian Cashman didn’t want Rafael Soriano, and frankly, the Yankees didn’t really need him. Ownership, or more accurately team president Randy Levine, wanted Soriano after losing out on Cliff Lee and various other free agent pitchers, and he who signs the checks makes the rules. Soriano agreed to a three-year contract worth $35M in mid-January, and the Yankees had themselves a shiny new eighth inning toy. A few month later, the right-hander was out with an elbow problem and eventually relegated to seventh inning worth.

Andrew Marchand reported on Wednesday that no, Soriano will not opt out of the two years and $25M left on his contract. The move isn’t official, but I’m not sure if something like this is ever officially reported anyway. Marchand just told us what we already knew though. There’s almost no chance Soriano would get that kind of cash on the open market after dealing with more injury troubles in 2011, so even if he’s unhappy, there’s a financial incentive to stay in New York. We’ve all been stuck at jobs we didn’t like, this isn’t much different.

I didn’t like the contract and chances are you didn’t like the contract either. There’s so little chance of a middle reliever being worth that kind of money; it basically takes optimal usage and the highest of high-leverage spots each time out, something no manager in history ever does. Soriano is overpaid, yes, but he’s not useless. He was pretty good in the ALDS for one, and the Yankees have to expect David Robertson‘s performance to decline next year just because relief pitchers never repeat seasons like that. That doesn’t mean Robertson will be bad in 2012, he just won’t be as amazing as he was in 2011. Soriano provides some high-end insurance.

At the end of the day, Soriano is luxury pretty much no other team can afford, and he’ll continue to be one next year. The Yankees didn’t need a new eighth inning guy … heck, they didn’t even need a new seventh inning guy, but they got one anyway simply because they can. They had the money to spend so they spent it on the biggest name left on the market, even if he was a square peg forced into a round hole.

Noesi roughed up in winter ball debut
References for Sabathia's next contract
  • Steve H.

    Can’t wait to see Joba in the 5th and Phil in the 6th. As soon as Soriano was signed, Joba should have been given another shot at the rotation.

    • Brian S.

      Phil Hughes will start next season with consistent velocity and be a >3 fwin pitcher. You heard it here first.

      • the Oberamtmann

        Naw, I said that in 2010 after predicting his crappy 2011

    • Bobtaco

      This times 1,000

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Yea he should have been given another shot but I guess for whatever reason they came to the conclusion he can’t do it.

  • Brian S.

    How about we trade him to Anaheim for Hasnari Takahashi? The Angels get another top-tier reliever to go along with Downs and Walden and the Yankees get another lefty reliever while clearing up 6.8 million in payroll for 2012. I think the Angels might do that because they need bullpen help and have a good chunk of cash coming off the books this offseason.

    • Brian S.

      Plus this way the Angels get to keep their first round pick.

    • Jesse

      You love to come up with trade proposals, don’t you?

    • Cuso

      The Yankees aren’t going to pick up payroll just for the sake of picking up payroll.

      Why would the Angels trade us Takahashi for Soriano? Would purpose does it serve them? They have a cost-effective good reliever. Why trade him for someone who is high-priced, oft-injured and, perhaps, only marginally better?

      That’s like the Yankees agreeing to trade Gardner straight up to the Red Sox for Crawford.

      • Cuso

        First line should have read “The Angels aren’t going to pick up payroll just for the sake of picking up payroll.”

  • Brian S.

    This signing was so freaking bad. I mean really bad. Dreadful you might even say.

  • Joseph Cecala

    Cashman’s contract should have an anti-Randy clause.

  • RalphieD

    *optimism alert* wouldnt it be nice if this time next year we are all talking about how soriano was a huge reason why the yankees are in the world series?… *back to reality* lol who am i kidding

    • Rainbow Connection

      Maybe he will in this way…he’ll blow so many games that the Yanks don’t win the AL East, and they’ll have to face a different team and slip through to the ALCS and the WS.

  • Will (the other one)

    Obvious decision was, sadly, obvious.

    But on the plus side, Texas and St. Louis are putting so much energy into making bullpens their preferred pitching options that by Opening Day next year, fans will only expect their starters to go three innings before the ‘pen takes over. Presto – AJ regains ace status and the team doesn’t have to spend any more money on starting pitching.

  • Darren

    Damaso Marte ended up as a great signing, when all is said and done.

    I’d take the same from Soriano.

    It was obvious he was not a 2 inning guy, so when Girardi left him in, you knew he was gonna igve up the lead. which he promptly did. yeah I blame Girardi but still.

    • steve (different one)

      This is kindof absurd. He gave up the Home run to his 4th batter. On his 14th pitch. Because the 4 batters spanned 2 different innings, it was obvious he’d give up a Home run?

  • duzzi23

    I think people overreact to the Soriano contract. Yes he got off to a rocky start and was injured but down the stretch he was a damn good reliever. Who cares if they spend 10 mill a year instead of 5 mill. It is similar to what the Tigers did with Benoit and he killed us in the playoffs and pitched well all season for Detroit. The bottom line is he strengthens the bullpen and his contract doesn’t severly hinder us in the future like Arod or Tex. Plus god forbid Mo ever went down he gives us insurance as an AL east proven closer.

    • Rainbow Connection

      He sucked all year.

      • YanksFan

        He pitched better than you post.

  • cranky

    The Yankees would have been FAR better off signing Scott Downs or Hisanori Takahashi. and for less than half the money they wound up giving to Soriano–especially when you consider that they’d figured Joba would be healthy all season. They’ve needed two good lefties in the bullpen for years.
    The Marte/Nady trade was a GREAT one for the Yankees. They made the trade to win a World Series, and they won a World Series. Karstens had a very nice 2011, and he might have a ML career for another five years, or so, but he’d be meat in the AL east. Ohlendorf has been mediocre, at best, and hurt a lot. Jose Tabata was a problem child in NY and wouldn’t have beaten out Bret Gardner for a starting job. Marte had a track record as one of the better LH relievers in the game.

    • MannyGeee

      yeah, people seem to forget that what looked like a shit deal in 2011 was actually a Cashman Ninja Special back in 2009.

      The subsequent unneccessary 2 year deal and jello pudding arm, however? not so much

  • Gary

    I really don’t care if Soriano is a luxury or not. Bullpen help is hard to come by and I will take all the arms I can get. Now the Yankee need is starting pitching. Sabathia, Hughes, Nova make 3/5ths of a starting rotation. Get rid of Burnett, plus Colon and Garcia are most likely gone.


    • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

      Too bad Tony Regans stepped down, or we might have had a legit shot at moving AJ.

      • MannyGeee

        listen, the Blue Jays found suckers, er buyers, for Rios and Wells… There’s always hope!


  • Jesse

    Cory Wade should be back too, no?

    • Dave203

      Wade is under team control for another 3 years from what I understand. He only has 3 years of ML service through this season (2008,2009,2011). I don’t think the Yanks are non-tendering someone who pitched as well as he did that makes less than a million/yr.

  • Rich in NJ

    How much money do they have to burn before the Steinbrenners realize that Cash is the only baseball decision maker who has a clue?

    Owners and executives should set the budget, get out of the way, and then take credit for any success.

    • Billion$Bullpen

      D. Strawberry says hello!

      • Rich in NJ

        Actually, George’s best recommendation (that wasn’t. followed) was David Ortiz, but when you look at the totality of owner initiated moves (e.g., Buhner for Phelps, Drabek for Rhoden, McGriff for Murray, signing Sheffield instead of Vlad, or Randy Johnson over Beltran, etc.), the general rule overwhelms any exceptions.

    • MannyGeee

      Gary Sheffield takes offense

      • MannyGeee

        and oh yeah, he says you’re a racist…

      • Slugger27

        and david wells in 02 worked out pretty well…

        but ya, usually its a poor move

  • John Ya Ya

    The only real issue I have with this signing is that the Yankees coughed up a draft pick. To a financial machine like the Yankees, the money is irrelevant. Besides, the bullpen was the least of their worries, especially in the postseason.

    • Alibaba

      Soriano allowed some key hits that contributed to our loss. But, we would have not lost if we could buy a hit with RISP. Oh, well!

  • Monteroisdinero

    I have a feeling Soriano is going to be great in 2012 or 2013. He is a good guy to have if and when Mo retires. Hard to believe he is as young as he is since he carries himself physically and emotionally like a much older guy.

    • MannyGeee

      Hard to believe he is as young as he is since he carries himself physically and emotionally like a much older guy.


      His elbow agrees…

    • Rich in NJ

      Mo retire? You cannot be serious…?

      • Monteroisdinero

        Haha Seriously, if Soriano has a good year and Mo retires, the 11-12M won’t look so steep in 2013.

  • SRB

    Concerning the Marte/Nady vs. Tabata/Karstens/Ohlendorf trade pros/cons- I’m OK w/ the above analysis but wasn’t Dan McCutcheon also part of that trade?- If so, I think that might tip it in favor of the Pirates- He is looking like another Tyler Clippard and we know how that worked out for the Yanks

    • steve (different one)

      I agree that the Pirates prob “won” the trade, but how is McCutchen looking like another Clippard? He’s a middle reliever with a K/9 of 5 and a BB/9 of 3.4. The Yankees must have a dozen guys in their system who can do this.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Talking about managers, bullpen and decisions. This is for you statisticians, Mathematicians and Sabermetricians. I will call it managerial malpractice. First, I do not believe managers win any games but by their decisions they lose them. Here is a prime example. You are the manager of the Texas Rangers. On the mound you have got your ace. This ace however, averages only 5/2 thirds innings per start. He has now pitched six good innings for you. You let him go out for a seventh inning. He gets in trouble and then you bring in one of your best relievers and you lose the game. That is managerial malpractice. My question is if you bring Ogando to start the seventh what are the probabilities you win or lose this game?

    • MannyGeee

      bullpens win championships!

      (unfortunately, they dont get you out of the ALDS…)

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    P.S. I think managers lose 5-7 games a year by malpractice but it may be less it’s just a guess.

  • Just sayin

    Funny how people overreact to another $24 over two when the same folks want to throw approximately $100 at Darvish ($50 posting/$50 contract). Darvish has thrown exactly 0 major league innings; Soriano, thus far, has thrown at least a few meaningful innings. But he doesn’t cost a draft pick, they whine. A bit or irony in how the “they have unlimited resources” argument is so selectively applied.

    • UncleArgyle

      Exactly. I don’t see the big deal in giving Soriano this money. Yankees obvioulsy have it, and he’s an elite relief pitcher still in his prime.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      What you said literally made no sense.

      But he doesn’t cost a draft pick, they whine.

      English, please.

      • Just sayin

        I think it does.

        Let’s examine:

        People on the message board have been frothing at the mouth for months because Soriano cost the team a 1st round pick, is billing at $12 million per year, and is sullen, surly, and a bit ugly.

        Many are prone to ignore the fact that he has had periods of great suggess at the major league level(when not injured).

        The same folks would rather save a 1st rounder and spend an additional $75 million on a pitcher from Japan (potentially $100 million+ to sign). Pitchers from Japan have an AWESOME track record afterall.

        Who cares about the pick? Dam Opp has shown a penchant for mining late-round gems and the Latin American scouting program yields a ton of high-end tallent. Not to say that you flush away 1st rounders every year, but expensive Japanese (and Cuban) players who are older than the typical 16-17 year old international signee seem to be inherently more risky than the older international signees and rarely justify the costs of bringinig them into the fold.

        You can land a bad egg by signing a free agent to an expensive deal, but a solid body of previous work usually is what nets the contract.

        Close the grammar book and get off your high horse, pud.

        • Bryan

          Read the Yankee Analysts post about our pitchers’ value vs salary. Soriano had a 0.2 WAR and was worth $1.3m vs salary of $9m. While I think that post was slightly flawed since it didn’t see treat wins vs worth linearly, you get the idea that Soriano vastly underperformed his 2011 salary.

          Using the above calculation for guidance and valuing 1 win conservatively at $5.0m, and presuming the total cost of Darvish is $100m ($45bid/$55msalary over 6 years) which is a bit on the low side, Darvish would have to be a 3.34 WAR player (with 1 win worth $5m) to justify an annualised outlay of just over $16.67m for Darvish. Darvish could pitch like Michael Pineda (3.4 WAR) and justify that outlay.

    • B-Rando

      Partially agree with you, but you are kind of comparing apples and oranges.

      As the title of this post states, Soriano was a luxury. He was by no means necessary going into this year. The fact that we spent considerable money on a luxury is what most people tend to have an issue with.

      With Darvish it’s a different story. Starting pitching is not a luxury, is an absolute necessity for this team right now. Everyone knows the Yankees greatest tool is their wallet. We can basically acquire a great to phenomenal prospect, with a high probability for success for money only. Yes it is a considerable amount of money, but we are accomplishing our goal of acquiring starting pitching for cash only, no draft picks required.

      Thats the difference to me, a luxury versus a necessity.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        no draft picks required.

        And no loss of prospects, as would be necessary in a trade scenario.

    • Brian S.

      One is a starting pitcher that could provide lots of value. One if a relief pitcher with limited value. Apples and oranges.

  • Grover

    I disagree with the premise of your title on this thread Mike and I think a shortage of money to spend will result in assets being added to Soriano so he can be dealt. I thought the purge would begin in earnest last year but the flaws in the payroll need to be addressed in order to improve the product on the field. When Sabathia returns as Cashman will always pays for aces, the options of Cano and Swisher are picked up and the arbitration raises are factored in there will not be enough money to fill out the roster with anything more than rookies and leftovers. I’m not against that as I am usually a proponent of a rookie and has been bench while acquiring assets at the deadline for pennies on the dollar for the final push but there will not be enough space to pursues Darvish and/or Wilson and I believe Cashman will target them both instead of hoping for lightning in a bottle again with Colon and Garcia or their replacements.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      there will not be enough money to fill out the roster with anything more than rookies and leftovers

      Great to know we’ve got an insider with intimate knowledge of the Yankee’s finances posting to the blog we all read and love.

      • YanksFan

        Even if Grover was correct, it’s not a major problem. However, I believe if they resign CC & actually get Yu & pay him 8M per year their payroll will be similar to this years.

      • Grover

        My network might surprise you Cris.

  • Hardy

    I do not understand the sentiment that a number 2/3 reliever is a luxury for the Yankees. The Impact in the regular season might be relatively small. But during the LDS/LCS/WS these guys can average about 1 IP/G. That’s about the same as the number 3/4 starters – and nobody thinks of them as a luxury.

  • PortlandYankee

    I would think there are enough teams out there who need a closer that we could trade him & pay 1/3rd of the contract, and he’d seem like a bargain. Get a lefty reliever and another B prospect in return.

    • Hardy

      That seeam optimistic to me. Would you trade Noesi or Banuelos for Soriano at $8M?

      • PortlandYankee

        When I say a “B” prospect, I mean a B-level prospect, not a “Killer B”. A throw-in org. player.

        There are going to be teams out there that need a closer. Papelbon, Madson, and Bell are all on the market and could all make $10 million+/year. If I’m one of the teams that lost their closer (like Philly) or a team that doesn’t have a real one (like the Dodgers), Soriano at $8-9 million/season (after we kick in the remainder) seems pretty reasonable.

        You pay a premium closer that much, not your “7th inning guy”.

        Meanwhile, we have Mo/Robertson/Logan/Wade & eventually Chamberlain for the late innings. What we really need is a 2nd LOOGY or backup corner IF. So that’s an easy trade to make.