Mailbag: Trading Soriano

Montero talks Wilson Ramos, still plans to go home this winter
Noesi continues to dominate in winter ball
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Kevin asks: Does Rafael Soriano have a no-trade clause? If he doesn’t, his $9 million a year contract might look good for other teams in the market for a closer after seeing what Jonathan Papelbon got for his contract. Is that feasible? And what kind of value can the Yankees get back?

Soriano’s contract does not have any kind of no-trade protection, but it’s also not worth $9M per year. He’ll make $11M in 2012 then another $14M in 2013. Papelbon’s contract (four years and $50M with a fifth year vesting option) is pretty ridiculous, but I don’t think it makes Soriano more attractive to other teams for a number of reasons.

For one, Papelbon is just straight up better than Soriano, he’s better and he doesn’t come with the same injury concerns. Remember, Rafi is coming off a disappointing season that included nearly three months on the shelf with an elbow problem. Secondly, the two contracts are worth just about the same amount of money in average annual value, so you’re getting a lesser reliever for the same amount of cash. The only difference is that you’re getting two years of Soriano instead of four years of Papelbon. Thirdly, instead of giving up a draft pick, you’re giving up some kind of non-useless player in a trade, and that non-useless player has more value than a draft pick, even a first rounder.

You don’t see too many high-end relievers get traded these days, but we do have a decent comparable in Mike Adams. The Rangers gave up two pretty good (but not elite) Double-A starting pitching prospects for a year and a half of Adams, but his salary is about a quarter of Soriano’s, maybe a third if he gets a big arbitration raise this winter. He’s also better than Soriano, and has been healthier in recent years (he’s definitely had his own injury problems though). You’ve got to adjust down a bit because of those two factors, so instead of two pretty good Double-A prospects, you’d be getting what … one good Double-A prospect? Maybe a useful Triple-A player that figures to be a bench player or something? I really don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud.

Either way, I can’t imagine the return will be enough to justify a trade. I’m no fan of Soriano’s contract, but he can definitely be a valuable member of the team when healthy. If anything, I’d say wait until Joba Chamberlain comes back from Tommy John surgery to trade him. If they end up moving Soriano this offseason then lose David Robertson (or even Mariano Rivera) for a period of time, suddenly the bullpen is real short and we’re looking at Boone Logan, Eight Inning Guy™. We didn’t see the real Soriano this season, but let’s hope we do in 2012.

Montero talks Wilson Ramos, still plans to go home this winter
Noesi continues to dominate in winter ball
  • Tipsie

    Soriano’s lousy year didn’t hurt as much as it could have because of Robertson’s emergence.

    We cannot expect Robertson to be quite as good in 2012. A healthy Soriano (no guarantee, of course) will certainly offset that.

    He’s not going anywhere. He’ll help in 2013, too, if G.O.A.T. decides to retire after 2012.

  • Jesse

    Although Soriano has a terrible contract and he had a rough year last year, I still believe that he can be a very good reliever, and a fresh start in 2012 could be what he needs. Also, after he came back from his injury he pitched pretty well:

    26 games, 3.33 ERA, 9.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, .205 Opp BA.

    • mbonzo

      Soriano is a great reliever. He was a top 3 closer in 2010. The only problem I see with trading him is the injury history. Papelbon is a much more reliable player, pitching-wise you could argue between who is better all day long. Papelbon has more value though. If he has a rebound year and the Yanks don’t need him in 2012, a trade is much more likely, and if the Yanks include money I think they could get a B/B+ prospect for him.

      • Jesse

        Exactly. Soriano’s stock isn’t that high right now. But, if he can have a good, healthy year his stock will probably be pretty high and if the Yanks pay a good chunk of his contract they could get some value in return.

        • zwazzy

          Given Papelbon’s contract, if Soriano has a good, healthy year, what incentive does he have to allow the Yankees to trade him? He could just as easily opt-out and cash in as a free agent. I’m sure he would like to close again, and I’d bet he’d like to see if he can net another big contract like Pap’s.

          • Jesse

            I thought Soriano had only one opt out in his contract. But if that’s the case the Yankees could trade him at the deadline, but I don’t see that happening.

            • B-Rando

              He’ll have little value at that point. The team trading for him would basically be expecting him to opt out anyways, so they’d be getting him for < 1/2 a season. On top of that, his contract is pricey, so in most situations that would be considered a "salary dump" trade. He simply won't have much value at that point.

  • Steve H.

    Hypothetically, Joba comes back strong, D-Rob is D-Rob and Mo is healthy and Soriano is pitching well. Would you consider trading Soriano midseason to a contender that has an injury/ineffectiveness situation at closer? It would certainly weaken the 2012 team (and you still would have to eat some money I’d think) but you could easily have the arms to replace him, as the 6th inning role isn’t very vital (that you’d be replacing). The acquiring team would then have to only worry about Soriano (hypothetically healthy and pitching well) for 1.5 years. You could even potentially build in a clause with a PTBNL if Soriano opts out, or the receiving team could then get the draft pick. All highly unlikely, but would you take advantage of the opportunity to get rid of Soriano if it weakened the 2012 team midway through the season?

    • MannyB ace2be

      I would love to see joba come back strong but I’m kinda itching to see what he could do as a starter again after kind of getting his act together a bit in the bullpen – would it be horrible to stretch him out to start during his rehab?

  • Mike HC

    Hopefully this poor contract won’t prevent Cashman from making moves this off season and possibly next that Cash deems are good for the team. I hope the Steinbrenners give him the leeway to make any signing Cashman wants even if it would push the Yanks “over budget” by 10 million dollars or so.

  • Rich in NJ

    I realize that it’s virtually blasphemous to acknowledge the possibility that Rivera could decline, but in the incredibly unthinkably unlikely event that it occurs in the relatively near-term, Soriano is pretty good insurance when healthy, or at least to fill Robertson’s role, if he is the heir apparent.

  • Soriano Is A Liar

    I feel like Soriano is the perfect example of a sunk-cost. The contract is done with, but since he is still a relatively good player, we can just try to put that deal behind us and focus on the good he can do the team. It doesn’t sting (to me) as much as say, the Feliciano deal, where he isn’t even playing so you literally get nothing for your money.

  • Tony

    “We didn’t see the real Soriano this season, but let’s hope we do in 2011.”


  • UYF1950

    We can always hope he opts out after this upcoming season when the “closer” market will be much thinner. He might be looking after this season to secure a 2 or 3 year deal with another team. I would doubt the Yankees offer him a contract after the 2013 season if he doesn’t opt out and certainly wouldn’t offer him arbitration if he opts out after the 2012 season. At least my opinion.

  • Eric

    Because of the contract, I don’t see Soriano bringing back much in the way of legitimate talent. Since Soriano is actually still a good pitcher, they’re likely better off with him than dealing him.

  • Brian S.

    I’m sorry, but if we could trade Soriano for a bag of balls you need to do that. If we trade Soriano we could sign two starting pitchers instead of one and have a stacked rotation for 2012.

  • Billion$Bullpen

    I agree that Soriano at the present time holds little trade value. My problem is the author of the post has said many times (as most other Yankees fans, writers, our own GM) that he was not in favor of the contract and signing Soriano but says it would be bad to trade him? Again I agree there is little to no market for him, but if you did not like the deal when we got him why at this time would you not want to move him for a box of balls if in theory we were able to?

    • Plank

      A big reason people were against the signing was that they gave up their top draft pick to a division rival. Trading him now wouldn’t get that pick back.

      • Billion$Bullpen

        Good point about the pick. I was not in favor of the deal, but I do not cut the checks so I was happy that we got another good bullpen option but I too would have not pulled the trigger on this deal.

  • Dino Velvet

    The press is really outraged that Paplebon left dear ole Boston.

    What an objective bunch.

  • jason

    Trade him away, pick up about 5-6 mil of the contract, and then sign Madsen to set up and then replace Mo. At least he can perform in a pressure maRket.

  • Mister D

    How much of a return do we really need? Honestly, he is terribly overqualified and overpaid for a SIG, and the Yankees could use the room in payroll and, probably, roster. Come mid season, if the Yankees wanted I wouldn’t be shocked if they moved him for a warm body, and maybe eating $1-4m of what’s left on his bill.

  • Jonathan

    I don’t understand Mike’s reaction to this question at all. Someone would have to surrender something more valuable than a 1st round pick for Soriano? I’d be ECSTATIC if someone would just take the deal for nothing. His velocity has dropped every year since 2007 and has major health risks while getting EXTREMELY overpaid. We act like we wouldn’t be able to add a reliever if we got rid of Soriano? that $25MM could be allocated to much much much better places than our 3rd or 4th best RP. You could use the money on Kemp or Greinke or Hamels or Cain next year. And use a small part of it to bring on Joe Nathan or Broxton on an incentive deal. There are a ton of good relievers this year that wouldn’t require anywhere near what we’re paying Soriano.

    How do we go from praying he opts out of his contract to needing more than a 1st rounder in value for Soriano? I’ve heard Mike say NUMEROUS times that while Soriano doesn’t have a no-trade clause, his contract is so bad that it already is one. Are people really saying they wouldn’t be happy if someone just took his contract this offseason and we spent the money on another much cheaper but comparable reliever? We’re going to need money freed up if we want to extend Cano/Grandy and get 1 or 2 stud SP and Kemp or another RF next year.

    • Urban

      Why would you be ecstatic? You don’t really think the Yankees won’t sign Granderson or Cano or shoot for Kemp because of what Soriano will make for a single season in 2013, if he’s even with the team? You know the answer to that. It will have no impact. Your goal seems to be to get rid of him just to get rid of his salary. That’s obviously not a concern the Yankees have, so I have no idea why you would have that concern.

      As for his velocity, no he won’t be throwing as hard in 2012 as he did five years earlier in 2007. Yet his velocity in 2011 was basically the same as it was in 2008, and there’s really no difference in his velocity from 2008-2011 considering that the velo charts you’re basing this on don’t break out four-seamers vs. two. A decline of a few tenths will be influenced by a number of items. You’re also ignoring that his 2009 and 2010 seasons, years where you’re concerned about his velocity, were both fine campaigns.

      Listen, like all, I didn’t love the signing, but he’s on the Yankees now, and if he’s going to be move, he should be moved for something that improves the Yankees. Joba won’t be back until mid-year, and it’s questionable what we’ll get from him at all in 2012. The Yankees are better off having Soriano right now.

      If he has a good year, he’ll be gone after 2012. It doesn’t matter if he will be owed $14 million and that he won’t duplicate that single-season salary. His injury history is such that Boras and Soriano will want to capitalize on his 2012 season to get a new three-year deal. Even if it’s “only” for $11 million a year, that’s still $19 million guaranteed additional dollars.

      He’s gone after 2012. Take what he can give the Yankees out of the pen in 2012, take the draft picks after next season, and move on.

  • http://none Favrest

    Soriano for a box of shit, but some will argue that we are giving up too much.

  • Grover

    I believe Cashman will actively seek to unload Soriano’s contract but it will probably follow some signings of the other top closers before getting serious. Most of his conversations with other gms will probably begin with the question of whether or not they have any interest in Soriano, Burnett, Swisher or Cervelli and move on from there.

  • Drew smith

    Sorry to change subject …… But just wanted to share an idea ….. Given that the future success of both AJ and Phil are in doubt …. How bout considering a cross town trade straight up for David wright ….. Make arod backup infielder at all positions as well as part time dh with Montero who hopefully gets 30 or 40 starts behind the plate …… Resign Garcia and make a point to sign either cj or bhurle

    • Jonathan

      I’m sorry but that is one of the least realistic and literally INSANE trade proposals I’ve seen and that’s saying a lot…Where to start..

      1. Soriano for David Wright: Disregarding the fact that the Mets and Yankees almost never trade, this is ridiculous. Why would the Mets trade their last remaining franchise icon at his lowest value? He’s capable of being an absolute superstar when healthy and with only Aramis Ramirez on the 3B market they could get MUCH more than someone with basically a negative trade value. The Mets are trying to cut payroll and know they won’t be winning for a few years, so why would they pay $25MM to a reliever, especially when there are so many good RP on the FA market that could be had for so much less. And if we can get ARod some more DH days he’s still very valuable, even knowing he’s going to miss 20-30 games a year. In less than 100 games and almost constantly injured he still put up over 4 WAR.

      2. Making ARod the backup infielder. $30+MM for a backup infielder. Wow. This goes back to the end of the first argument that ARod is still a valuable player and we’re trying to keep him healthier by playing less in the field, not get him more playing time at two positions he’s more likely to be hurt in and has zero chance of being able to handle. ARod’s also played 8 innings of SS since 2003 and has never played 2B in his MLB career.

      3. Garcia is a solid plan but Mark Buehrle doesn’t miss bats and will likely cost way more than he’s worth and would get hit around in the AL East. Wilson is going to cost close to $100MM and with Banuelos and co. coming up and the elite SP FA market next year committing that much money to someone with such a small timeline of success and little knowledge of how they’ll produce going forward isn’t a good way to spend our cash.

      The best way to go forward would be to re-sign Andruw Jones and Freddy Garcia. Hopefully trade for a John Danks type or possibly sign Darvish. Try and get Mike Gonzalez on a 1 year deal. Use Montero as the full time DH and backup catcher and bring Joba back as a SP (never going to happen). Finally, switch Gardner and Granderson in the OF.

      C Martin
      1B Tex
      2B Cano
      3B ARod
      SS Jeter
      LF Granderson
      CF Gardner
      RF Swisher
      DH Montero

      BN Jones
      BN Nunez
      BN Chavez type
      BN Cervelli/Doumit isn’t a bad idea

      SP Sabathia
      SP Danks/Darvish
      SP Nova
      SP Garcia
      SP Hughes/Burnett/Joba in June?

      CL Rivera
      RP Robertson
      RP Soriano
      RP Wade
      RP loser of 5th SP spot
      RP Logan
      RP Gonzalez/one of the AAA arms

      Next offseason use the money gained from Jorge/Rivera/Swisher/Danks/Garcia and Burnett/Soriano the next year to extend Cano/Granderson and either extend Swish or buy Kemp. Extend Martin to short term deal to ease Montero into full time C role if possible. Extend Rivera if he changes his mind and wants to come back. Sign Hamels or one more of Greinke/Danks/Cain/Liriano/Marcum depending on how Burnett/Hughes/Nova/AAA arms are doing.

      • Urban

        Yeah, agreed. First off, regarding Drew Smith’s note, the Mets after losing Reyes will not trade Wright to the Yankees, even if it was a fair deal. He noted the doubt around AJ and Hughes, so why the hell would the Mets make that “straigh-up” deal?

        I’m actually more positive on Hughes heading into 2012. He’s a year removed from his heavy workload and I’m confident he’s going to show up next Spring in top shape. I really think his conditioning was a major issue all year and while he improved, he never quite caught up. If it turns out that he’s just a two-pitch pitcher, then I’m more than fine with moving him to the pen permanently in 2013. It’ll have been several years as a starter at that point, and if he can’t cut it, he’ll just be another failed starter who can find new life in the pen, perhaps as a strong candidate as Mariano’s replacement (not that I think he’s going to retire after 2012.)