Holiday Mailbag: Rafael Soriano

Fan Confidence Poll: December 31st, 2012
New Year's Open Thread
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Several people asked: What’s the market for Rafael Soriano? Would the Yankees consider bringing him back? What happens to the draft pick if he doesn’t sign soon?

I received a few Soriano-related questions over the last week, so I figured I’d lump them all together here. The easiest question is the last one. The Yankees will get a pick for Soriano as long as he signs a guaranteed contract with another MLB team (so no Japan or Korea) prior to next June’s draft. If he takes a minor league deal or signs after the draft, the Yankees won’t get that supplemental first round pick. Also, it doesn’t matter which team signs him, New York gets the same exact draft pick regardless under the new system.

Now, as for his market, it’s basically non-existent right now. The Dodgers and Red Sox are not in the mix according to Jim Bowden and Rob Bradford, respectively, though those reports came prior to the Joel Hanrahan trade. That figures to change the market in some way. Scott Boras has been trying to sell the Tigers on Soriano for a while now according to Bill Shaikin, but Danny Knobler heard owner Mile Ilitch won’t be talked into signing him after dropping $100M+ on Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez. That’s it, no other reports on interested clubs this offseason.

Soriano’s market was similarly quiet two winters ago, when Yankees ownership swooped in and signed the right-hander in mid-January. There are more teams (many more teams, actually) with money to spend this time around, so I think it’s only a matter of time before Boras finds a taker. It could be the Dodgers, the Angels, the Rangers, the Nationals, who knows. I still think Soriano will wind up with the Tigers though, they’re clearly in win-now mode and have some serious bullpen question marks. Bruce Rondon is a great prospect, but he’s posted a 5.81 BB/9 (15.1 BB%) in 93 innings over the last two seasons. Hard to see a serious contender giving that guy the reigns to the ninth inning.

For the Yankees to get involved, Boras and Soriano would obviously have to be willing to take a one-year deal. I can’t imagine they’ll give him two guaranteed years given the plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold in 2014. Soriano walked away from $12.5M with the opt-out (he received a $1.5M buyout) and another $13.3M by rejecting the qualifying offer, but he would have to take less to return to New York if no market develops. He wouldn’t have any leverage. The Yankees could bring him back as a setup man for like $10M and let him go after the season, though I’d have to think another qualifying offer would be out of the question. It would surprise me if Soriano’s market was so poor that he had to come crawling back to the Yankees, but I don’t think it’s completely out of the question. Just very unlikely.

Fan Confidence Poll: December 31st, 2012
New Year's Open Thread
  • Sorianos Untucked Shirt

    I wouldn’t mind him to come back if and only if it means another move is on the horizon. Joba trade? Robertson?

    • MannyGeee

      Very timely handle.

      Yeah, one of those two would have to be out the door (or on their way back being stretched out for a chot at the rotation COUGH COUGH Joba COUGH) before we see the Yankees jump back on the Soriano train again.

  • scooter10

    He’s a very average setup man and a great closer. Makes very little sense to bring him back unless the Yankees have concerns about Mo. I would rather spend the money on a right-handed power hitter or acquire a guy like Upton.

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    I think the smart money has Boras getting Detroit to sign him on at least a 2 year deal.

  • MannyGeee

    I found it strange that Soriano, who:

    – is clearly better than Madsen
    – a much better known commodity than Hanrahan
    – and surely a safer bet to stay healthy than Soria

    is left out to dry again this off season. Is this a Boras effect? It seems like every season there is a Boras guy (at least one) that sits out there longer than they should. Sometimes it becomes a fruitful venture (Prince Fielder, Soriano), other times it becomes a cluster (Johnny Damon 2009).

    • turd surfer

      Boras loves being the last store open for business. He can charge $30 for a pizza pie. He just needs one person hungry enough.

      • MannyGeee

        But what happens, Johnny Damon, when everyone else is full on burritos and Pad Thai? got to damn near give it away at closing time.

        Just a dangerous little game is all. Could work gangbusters, could end up costing yourself money.

        • turd surfer

          Damon earned $14.5 million after he left the Yankees. Let’s not make it out like he left tens on millions of dollars on the table by waiting it out.

    • RetroRob

      Ryan Madson signed a one-year deal for $3.5M. Sure, Soriano could have signed for that. No reason to. He’ll get more money and years than that even as a set-up man. Hanrahan is also only a one-year committment and will probably cost somewhere around $5-6M. Soriano will get more than that, too. Basically all the reasons you outlined is why Soriano will get more money. It’s really just a question of how millions more he’ll get, not if he’ll get millions.

      The Damon situations are quite rare but can happen to any player with any agent, and indeed do. Boras clients do quite well. That said, I don’t think he’s read the reliever market accurately the last couple of seasons, yet Soriano is still going to get millions.

  • RetroRob

    Having difficulty seeing it happen, even at $10M, or even $8M. The Yankees have a budget, one which I doubt includes $10M for a set-up man.

    Soriano will get his contract, even if it’s less than what he hoped.

    • Greg

      Yankees are already at $210M for this year when you include all of the arb and pre-arb guys yet to sign. I think it’s unlikely that we’ll add anyone unless we move money (Grandy?). I would love to see a situation where a Boras client left money on the table, and then sued him for malpractice to make up the difference.

  • Stratman9652

    Can you imagine opting out of that kind of money only to have the market disappear and a chance of taking a pay cut on the horizon? I think I would be crapping my pants a little bit.

    • nsalem

      He;s made over 30 million dollars in his MLB career.

    • Austin Aunelowitzky

      Wow, deja vu, flashback to A-Rod 2008.

    • RetroRob

      He walked away from a $13.3M one-year deal. He won’t get that in a one-year deal, but he’ll get a multi-year deal that will be worth more. He’ll be fine.

  • Darren

    Soriano has been abssolutely fantastic for the Yankees. It’s so funny how all the SABR folks who SHOULD be totally into him don’t like him just because he’s a little broody and doesn’t always talk to the media. He’s actually the opposite of the typical volatile (from year to year) reliever. Very consistent.

    I mean, rilly. Who cares if he dosn’t offer up bland quotes every time he blows a save. I’d rather him be so pissed that he has to leave the staidum, which is what he does sometimes.

    • Laz

      very consistent?
      Did you watch him in 2011?

    • Ted Nelson

      I think people are fine with his performance, just don’t want to pay premium money for a reliever.

  • trr

    He’s proven over the course of time to be a better closer than set-up man. A mighty expensive insurance policy for the cost-cutting Yanks

    • Ted Nelson

      This is a false narrative, IMO.

      • Reuben Sierra’s Chains

        How is it a false narrative. He sucked in 2011 as a set-up man but was good last year as a closer.

        • RetroRob

          He’s basically had a little over 2 1/2 years as a closer in a career dating back to 2002, with the rest of the time being a set-up man. He had a number of nagging injuries in 2011, his first year with the Yankees. He’s had fine years as a closer and fine years as a set-up man.

  • paul a

    The dumb ass should never have opted out in the first place. Once again Boras cost one of his cilents money.

    • jjyank

      Eh, I would have opted out too. Lots of teams with money to spend, I totally get trying to cash in. Especially considering he’s a reliever who has a sizeable injury history.

    • Get Phelps Up

      I can almost guarantee he’ll get more than $13.3M guaranteed in his next contract.

  • Horizonal Pinstripe

    It seems the value of relief pitchers is down in general in MLB. It’s still an obviously critical role, but it’s just three outs.

    It was hard to be a fan of Soriano and the whole untucked deal. He was last in the league in smiles. I think I saw one in two years.

  • Pistol Pete

    I think Derroit will sign him, perfect fit, a team destined for the post season with no true closer ever since Valverde imploded.

  • Dan

    Draft pick > 10 mil for 7th inning guy when they didn’t give a starting catcher 8 mil.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    I thought they closed that minor league contract loophole a few years ago after the Rays abused it when they signed Felipe Lopez to a MiL deal after the Red Sox abused the Type B FA rule when they picked him up with 5 days left in the season?

    In summation, the Rays and Red Sox suck, and they ruin everything for everyone else.

  • Vern Sneaker

    On the current roster, for 2013 have to be concerned: I go with a 5. Too many age/health issues: Jeter, A-Rod, Youk, Ichiro, Sabathia, Pettitte, Mo, even Tex. Catching? Outfield? Lineup vs. lefties? Too much uncertainty. Hoping for the best, though, including more moves. Happy New Year!

  • dp

    I am thinking that Soriano will sign a 1 year deal with the Indians. The Indians will trade Chris Perez to the Tigers for their competitive balance pick plus a player or two(Boesch). If the Indians find themselves in the mix midseason they can keep him but if not he’ll become the best closer available at the trade deadline.

    • Tyrone Sharpton

      yea keep smokin that new years eve joint, brutha. never happening for a number of reason

      • dp

        Let me hear your reasons? I think this makes sense as the Indians get back a better pick then the one given up to sign Swisher. They would only lose a third round pick for signing Soriano. The Tigers get a good closer without giving up their first round draft pick if they are thinking about signing Soriano.

        If Cleveland could acquire the Tigers Competitive Balance Lottery pick 37 overall this could be a good spot for Soriano. In fact it could be a good spot for all of the remaining Boras clients with draft pick compensation attached to them.

  • All Praise Be To Mo

    Can a team sign him to a minor league deal with the option that if he makes the roster he get $10-$11 million in order to avoid the draft pick forfeiture?

    • Laz

      Wouldn’t they have to keep him down until after the draft?
      Don’t see Soriano wanting to do that.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        No, we’ve signed plenty of players to minor league deals that make the team out of st for opening day. Thames recently for example.

      • turd surfer

        I think under the old system any minor league contract meant no compensation pick. This was shown when Felipe Lopez was offered arb by the Sox when he qualified as a type B FA. Everyone thought the Sox stole a draft pick when they traded for Lopez at the end of the season. Joke was on them, he signed a minor league deal, played in the Rays opening series, and the Sox still got nothing in draft compensation.

        If that remained unchanged, the Yankees would get nothing if he signs a minor league deal even if he makes the opening day roster. I don’t know if out had changed though.

        I still don’t think he would sign that because one injury in ST and he’s left with nothing.

  • Deep Thoughts

    Wherever he ends up, I think he should concede his nickname to The Original MFIKY, Uggie Urbina.

  • JRod

    Many Yankees fans have been spoiled by the Mariano era, bovinely taking an elite closer as a given. Similar to the complacency wrought by the Posada era, with some Yankees fans now shocked to the core of their being to discover that most catchers can’t hit worth a damn. Soriano was brilliant last year, saved the season. After all the jokes and slagging about Tampa interfering and overpaying, it was a great signing and now a little better with the Yanks getting a draft pick out of it.

  • Midwestyankee

    The oldest quote in baseball: “You can never have too much pitching.” Soriano is a much above average reliever in either role It’s only a matter of the budget. .

  • http://apple GAYANKSFAN1122334455

    Soriano is a huge wast money. Especially when the yanks are trying to stick with a payroll of under 189$ mill. ( witch probley won’t happen ) of the where to sign him they shouldn’t pay less then 2 million a year for him. And with Michael Pineda coming back some one will have to go to the pen. Probley Nova or Hughes.

  • qwerty

    If no one wants Soriano then Hank should step in and offer him a 10 year deal for whatever he wants.