Poll: Rafael Soriano’s Opt-Out Clause


(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

An expensive — and injured — luxury at this time last season, Rafael Soriano has become an indispensable part of the Yankees’ bullpen with Mariano Rivera out for the season and David Robertson shelved for a month. He’s pitched to a 0.73 ERA (1.91 FIP) with ten strikeouts and just two walks in 14 appearances since mid-May, and he’s kept the closer’s job despite Robertson’s return from the DL. That’s due to his 12-for-13 effort in save chances.

The return to the ninth inning already has some wondering about Soriano’s future with the team beyond this season, specifically his ability to opt-out of the final year and $14M left on his contract. This morning Joel Sherman wrapped up the situation succinctly…

Some teams in need of closers will appreciate (his performance), indeed, it continues. Soriano might not get $14 million a year, but what if he, say, were offered three years at $30 million? It would probably be in his best interest to jump at that, especially if it looks as if Rivera would return in 2013. Because, in that scenario, Soriano would almost certainly go back to being a set-up man in his walk year and run the risk of not being as enticing to the rest of the sport.

Soriano is a Scott Boras client and Boras isn’t stupid, he’ll gauge the closer market before pulling the trigger on the opt-out clause. The upcoming free agent market for late-game relievers is quite weak, with Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton, Jose Valverde, and an injured Ryan Madson highlighting the crop. Soriano is the best healthy pitcher of the bunch and teams will pay for saves, just look at Heath Bell last winter.

Losing Soriano to the opt-out after the season would hurt the bullpen but also probably represents a net gain. Not only could the Yankees find a replacement setup man with that $14M, but they should have enough left over to help fill the right field and/or catching holes. Since the opt-out indicates a search for a larger payday, the Yankees could also make Soriano a qualifying offer — one year at approximately $12.5M — and be eligible for draft pick compensation should he sign elsewhere. Again, his performance won’t be easy to replace, but it’s not impossible.

We’re still months away from the opt-out becoming an issue, and Soriano’s performance (and health) over these next few weeks are going to play a major role in his decision to stick it out for another season — as Mariano’s setup man — or leave for greener pastures. I’ve been saying since Day One that he wouldn’t opt-out, then again I also didn’t expect him to fill-in for Rivera for what amounts to 75-80% of the season.

Will Soriano opt-out of his contract after the season?
Total Votes: 1658 Started: June 19, 2012 Back to Vote Screen
Categories : Death by Bullpen, Polls


  1. David says:

    Question: If I was a rival GM could I call up Soriano after the seasons and say “hey if you opt out I’ll give you X dollars over Y years” or would that be considered tampering?

  2. Get Phelps Up (formerly Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat) says:

    Again, his performance won’t be easy to replace, but it’s not impossible.


    • Rey22 says:

      + Aardsma.

      You’d have Mo in the 9th, D-Rob in the 8th, Soriano in the 7th, Joba for the 6th and Aardsma for the 5th? Wade for the 4th and Logan for the 3rd? I think they can withstand his loss and move everyone one up in the pecking order.

      • Rey22 says:

        That being said, I still don’t think he’ll opt out. Doubt he gets 3/30. He’ll be older than Bell and have less saves in the past couple of years than when he became a free agent, and he got 9/27.

        I know closing for the Yankees has to be considered harder, but nobody seemed to care that Bell was pitching in PETCO so I don’t think it’ll be a huge factor.

        • MannyGeee says:

          Counting saves is like counting wins, but I’ll bite…

          He has 60 of his 103 saves in the AL East, Bell has all but 14 of his saves in the NL West.

          and there is a difference in age, relative…. ahem “shape”, and the #s lean in Sorianos favor. That monsterous BABIP for Bell (.303 vs .251), for one.

  3. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    I voted yes, but mostly out of hope that Mo comes back and Robertson pitches the 8th.

    Joba–remember Joba?–can pitch the 7th or move up a notch or two if need be.

    Save the Soriano money.

  4. Brian Cashman is Watching says:

    How do you think Cashman will use qualifying offers considering the past reluctance to use arbitration? With Swisher and Martin, and potentially Soriano, would he actually make qualifying offers?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Because Soriano would be opting out of a 1/14 deal. The qualifying offer would be 1/12.5.

      • ChrisS says:

        $30m* > $14m > $12.5M

        The guaranteed money in baseball contracts trumps a better single year AAV. Good post Mike, I can’t imagine him not turning down $14m a year for a nice multi year contract that may not be as much for a single season. He’s not going to get more than $14m AAV from the Yankees in 2014 as a setup guy. And if the Yankees won’t overpay, no one else will. His best chance for more guaranteed money is free agency this offseason before he’s a year older, potential injuries, and a less high profile role.

        • Gonzo says:

          I agree that total money trumps AAV for relievers, but is he really going to get $30mm? It was a shock when the same pitcher (younger too) got $35mm from the Yankees. K-Rod accepted arb and Madson is getting only $8.5mm for his troubles this year.

          Basically, it was a Amaro blowing out the market for Paps and then crickets for the closer market this year.

    • 28 this year says:

      Yea, qualifying offers are definitely cheaper than most arbitration cases would have been. Martin might not get a qualifying offer cause even 12.5 million might be much for the Yankees to stomach although for a one year deal, I think its a good one for Martin because it gives the Yankees one more year to figure out their catching situation. Swisher and Soriano would definitely get an offer. Soriano at 12.5 million is less than he would ahve been so no chance he accepts and Swisher on a one year deal is beyond a pipe dream. Plus Cashman has been reluctant for arb for aging guys who would be overpays, not younger guys like Swisher who would be a steal at those prices.

  5. Adam says:

    Hopefully this isn’t a possibility, but do the Yanks then get in on Soriano as a closer if he opts out and for some reason Mo doesn’t return (perish the thought)?

  6. Cris Pengiucci says:

    If he continues performing as he has and remains healthy, I think he almost has to opt out. The opportunity for a 3 year deal (for obviously a higher total value than $14M) will be too enticing, not to mention the reduction in his value should Mo return and perform well. It helps the Yankees more in 2013 than anything past there, but I think it is actually best for both sides. I trust Mo will return and be productive and it will provide an opportunity for DRob and Joba to shine, and Aardsma should be able to contribute as well.

  7. MattB says:

    Mike, how did you vote for the poll?

  8. 28 this year says:

    A bullpen next year of Mo, D-Rob, Joba, Aardsma, Wade, Logan gives me plenty of confidence especially since if some of those guys falter (which would most likely happen), the Yankees are adept at finding cheap replacements and they have a number of guys in the pipeline to fill spots, like Montgomery. Getting rid of Soriano woudl be best case scenario and at the end of the day, the Soriano contract looks less bad (although still bad) in such a situation since replacing Mo was invaluable.

  9. NYYROC says:

    Best case: Sori pitches great..helps NYY win WS in 2012.
    Joba & Aardsma prove they are “back” in 2nd half of 2012.
    Sori opts out NYY have his $ to use elswhere. Joba & Aardsma fill Sori’s void in 2013. NYY have Joba, Aardsma, DRob & Mo in 2013.

  10. ChrisS says:

    $30m* > $14m > $12.5M

    The guaranteed money in baseball contracts trumps a better single year AAV. Good post Mike, I can’t imagine him not turning down $14m a year for a nice multi year contract that may not be as much for a single season. He’s not going to get more than $14m AAV from the Yankees in 2014 as a setup guy. And if the Yankees won’t overpay, no one else will. His best chance for more guaranteed money is free agency this offseason before he’s a year older, potential injuries, and a less sexy role.

    • Drew says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Why would he risk being a set up man next year and maybe having an off year or having an injury absolutely destroy his value. It actually is the perfect situation for him to opt out. Mariano going down has really been a blessing in disguise.

  11. Drew says:

    I voted Yes because I want it to happen, will it actually happen? I just don’t know. Like Mike said in the post seeing what “proven closers” such as Bell received last off season gives me hope that Soriano will opt out in favor of a longer deal. Martin I would extend a qualifying offer to so he is back for one more season and see what Romine & Sanchez does. You can use the $14 million to help keep Swisher stay or find a cheaper replacement. You cannot bank of pitchers coming off of major injury being effective but with Joba and Aardsma on there way now, the bullpen is full of quality arms. Say what you want about the Yankees developing Starting Pitching, but even with a slew of injuries that happened this season, the Yankees have found great in house replacements and players off the scrap heap to put together the best bullpen in baseball.

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

      Injury return is tough, but we’ve got Aardsma, Joba and Mo…we really only need ONE of them to return, and he or Drob could end up closing, with Boone, et al filling in between 5th and 8th.

  12. TheOneWhoKnocks says:

    I think he will opt out.

    I think there’s a 3 year 27m contract out there for him and I think he wants to close games.

    He’s not going to be able to top $14m in 2013, but the closer role and extra years of security will entice him to opt out, which will be great for us because we will have a tremendous bullpen even without him and could use the money on a more pressing need.

    • bpdelia says:

      Exactly. I was actually thinking 3/25 in my head. There is ZERO guarantee with his history he spent blow up or get hurt and he will be a setup guy. If he stays its quite possible he makes a bit more over 2014-2016 but its equally possible he makes less or the same trying to squeak out one year 5 mil dollar deals.

  13. Fernando says:

    Soriano opting out would be like winning for World Series. The $14 million comes off the books and the team could get back a draft pick by offering arbitration.

  14. DERP says:

    We can use the money saved to resign Pedro Feliciano.

  15. Jake H says:

    I voted yes only because I want the draft pick plus the $ to plug in somewhere else.

  16. Gonzo says:

    I’m surprised there are so many opt outs in here. In a year when Edwin Jackson signed for $11mm, Ryan Madson is going to get $8.5mm, and K-Rod accepted arb, I don’t know how he can opt out.

    • JonS says:

      Because even 3/25 is better than 1/14 and then trying to get more than 2/11 after being marginalized to the 7th inning after Mo and DRob return to there roles in 2013.

      • Gonzo says:

        My point is that 3/25 is not even close to a given. Boras actually accepted arb from the Brewers. Instead of aiming for a paltry 2/14 deal for K-Rod, he settled for a 1/8.5 deal. That’s from a guy that knows the market better than you or I do.

        • DM says:

          I think some have the notion that Boras shoots for the most guaranteed money rather than simply the most money. A player has to put his foot down for Boras not to go for all the marbles. I’m sure some team would’ve signed Madson for 3/20 last year — and that would “guarantee” more money, but that’s not the Boras approach. He’ll want the 14 from the Yankees next year while knowingly taking a chance to get that same multi-year deal after 2013. Not to mention that his best big money dance partner (Yankees) is eliminated from the bidding if he opts out. Soriano in his prime, after 45 saves, still needed the Yankees to get big money.

  17. DM says:

    Judging by the responses, this poll should be renamed from…
    “Will Soriano opt out?” to “Do you hope Soriano will opt out?”

  18. Betty Lizard says:

    He won’t opt out. He knows he’ll never see $14 million again. Mariano’s return remains an unknown and if Soriano stays healthy and effective, Soriano can play out his $14 million year with the Yankees and odds are still get a good contract somewhere else.

    • DM says:

      Good point. Rivera’s return to form and health for the 2013 season is not the given that most here assume — and who knows how his own contract situation will go. How do the Yankees handle that? Does Rivera take a cut rate while he’s still rehabbing? Does he expect a one year big $ deal himself? For better or worse, Soriano is the closer right now — and there’s more of chance of him closing games in a Yankee uniform in 2013 than people will concede.

    • Bubba says:

      You’re right that he’ll never see $14M/yr but unless he gets injured or starts to suck, he will get a more money if he opts out. Two years at $7M per is a pretty low hurdle to clear.

  19. m1kew says:

    A better poll might be … “Do you hope that Soriano will opt out?”

    I, for one, would hope he does. The Yankees have enough potential closers (Robertson, Joba, Aardsma) in the organization to make me think Soriano is more fungible than say Swisher. Plus Mo is coming back next year so I think the $ saved on Soriano can be better invested elsewhere.

  20. RetroRob says:

    I agree 100% with Joel Sherman, but then again I’ve been promoting that same scenario for a while. People get lost in the $14 million owed next season (it’s actually $12.5 million, which I’ll get to in a second) thinking Soriano needs to replace that, otherwise he won’t leave. That’s not the case at all.

    His contract has a clause that if he opts out the Yankees owe him $1.5 million. That brings Soriano’s dollar-replacement value down to $12.5 million in 2013, not the $14M being mentioned. He still won’t get that for a single season on the open market, but a three-year contract for an annual average of $9 or $10 million is not out of the question, and $27-$30 million is a lot more money than $12.5 million, especially since he won’t be coming off a close season after 2013 if he decides to stay.

    Normally, Boras will go for the most money, so with a different type of player I could see him advising his player to stay with the Yankees and collecting the full $14 million in 2013 and then going for the three-year deal after 2013, but he knows Soriano won’t be the closer in 2013, is injury prone, and will be a year older. He will strike now. Plus, Boras almost always uses opt-outs.

    Unless he collapses or gets injured in the second half of 2012, Soriano will opt out.

    • Fernando says:

      I say Soriano opts out looking for better offers

      If I understand it, the opt out is a no brainer. He gets $1.5M from the Yankees for opting out. Plus, the team figures to offer the qualifying offer of $12.5M for the draft pick.

      If he gets no better offers, he returns and basically loses NOTHING as he gets the opt out money and the qualifying offer for a total of $14M or what he would get by NOT opting out.

      • RetroRob says:

        I’m not sure about the timing of the qualifying offer. He might have to accept it immediately or lose it.

        BTW There is another option here if the Yankees actually do want him to leave to free up additional money. They could basically let Boras know they won’t make a qualifying offer if Soriano opts out, making his client an even more attractive free agent to other teams. It’s kind of the inverse of when players let teams know they won’t accept arbitration if offered, as was the case of Javy Vazquez.

        There’s little reason for the Yankees to do this unless they think Soriano/Boras are waffling and they want to encourage it on the belief the $12.5 gained and how it can be directed toward the 2013 roster is more valuable than the prospect gained.

  21. Leg-End says:

    Once Mo returns Rafael can put that coffee down.

    Could see him opting out for more years and a guranteed closer spot, not fussed either way.

  22. JohnC says:

    If he opts out then I hope the Yanks at least make him a qualifying offer so they get a compensation pick for him. Same with Swisher

  23. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    OK we officially want a new poll:

    One a scale of 1 to 11, how much do you hope Soriano opts out?

    • m1kew says:

      1 meaning you hope he stays and 11 meaning you hope he opts out?

      I really would prefer he opts out but it would not crush me if he stayed. If 11 means opt out my number would be 8 or 9.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:


        1 means you only clap and dance when he opts out.
        11 means you’ll help MFIKY pack his bags.


    • Gonzo says:

      Is 20 an acceptable answer?

    • Bo Knows says:

      googoleplex (if you don’t know look it up, it’s a really big number)

  24. OneJay76 says:

    If he wants, let him walk. And when Mo retires, hopefully that’s last of the 8-figure salary for a relief pitcher on this payroll.

  25. Gonzo says:

    For all those that think he will opt out, what team do you think is willing to spend this 3/~27mm deal everyone thinks he’s going to get?

  26. Robinson Tilapia says:

    He’s done a good job for the team this year. That being said, run, Sori, don’t walk. We mentioned the obvious Joba and Aardsma returns. There’s also the team’s ability to find relief on trees, guys coming up through the system, and the possibility or Betances going from starting zero to relief hero rather quickly

    Will he opt out? Doubt it. A guaranteed 14 mil is hard to pass up.

  27. Manny's BanWagon says:

    At this point, its looking like that “horrible deal” made by the evil Randy Levine will end up working out pretty well for the Yankees after all.

  28. DERP says:

    I’m scared that he will opt out and we sign him to a 3/40 deal.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      The only way I could see being afraid of that is if Kratos slays Mo’s ACL in God of War V. Otherwise, if he opts out, he pitches somewhere else next year.

      One man’s opinion.

  29. Slu says:

    I don’t see how he gets 3/27 when nobody wanted him last time he was a free agent. I think he stays. He’ll be lucky to get 2/14 on the market.

    • RetroRob says:

      That’s not true. He did have interest, but Boras always plays hardball trying to get the most money, and during that time he lost a couple of his potential teams. He did not time the market right with Soriano. Oh, wait, I’m sorry. Didn’t he get a 3/37 deal for Soriano? I guess he timed it just right.

      One off-season’s free-market has little to do with another.

  30. 28 this year says:

    How exactly does the qualifying offer work? Is that deal just left sitting there until the season starts and the player can accept whenever or does the player need to agree or turn in down by a specific date like arb right now?

  31. Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost says:

    Man, the thought of Soriano opting out tickles my pickle. I hope Boras talks him into it. There are some very good young bullpen arms in the system.

    It would take a team that would go on a Marlins-esque spending binge, and the Dodgers just might do that. Also, I don’t think they have anyone super-established.

    Man, that would be so awesome!

  32. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Do anything to get that mistake of a contract off the team. Good player, massively overpaid. If he doesn’t opt out there’s going to be close to 30 million invested for 120 innings of relief in Mo and Sori. Waste of resources if they are committed to 190 million.

  33. AaronGuielWithASmile says:

    It’s easy to point to the crazy money that Bell and Papelbon got, but you also have to keep in mind that guys like Valverde, Madson, and K-Rod basically got nothing. The free agent market is a huge risk/reward proposition for relievers.

    I’d love Soriano to opt out, but I have a hard time imagining him doing it.

  34. LiterallyFigurative says:

    Personally, I hope he DOESN’T opt-out. Since he’s off the books after 2013 anyway, he doesn’t affect the austerity budget.

    There is no guarantee Mo will be Mo next year.

    Plus, I have this vision of the bullpen of all bullpens.

    Mo, Sori, DRob, Joba, Boone, Aardsma.

    Note to opposition: Make sure you have the lead after the 4th inning.

  35. Brian S. says:

    I hope so. And if he opts out I think a qualifying offer should be offered because he’s not going to opt out of 14 and take 12.5 instead.

  36. The Scheister of Doom says:

    I hope he opts out just to see that 14MM allocated elsewhere but I don’t think he will.

  37. Ross says:

    I voted “no” but, I agree with most of you envisioning an opt-out, qualifying offer, and replacement with Aardsma or Chamberlain as a dream scenario.

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