Point/Counterpoint with Rafael Soriano



I’m not trying to pick on Gammons here, more like trying to poke a hole in Scott Boras’ logic. The Yankees reportedly have some interest in bringing Rafael Soriano back on a two-year deal to help their bullpen, but his camp doesn’t need to use Mariano Rivera‘s age to prove their point. We all know Rivera, who is coming off major knee surgery, will open next year at age 43 and is more of a liability now than every before. The Yankees know this as well as anyone, which is why they’re likely looking into other free agent relievers in case Soriano gets his money elsewhere.

And, for the record, Mo was 24 days away from his 40th birthday on the day the Yankees won the 2009 World Series.

Cabrera & Posey take home MVP honors

Unsurprisingly, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera was named the MVP of the AL tonight and it wasn’t all that close. He received 22 of 28 first place votes (362 pts) and Mike Trout (281 pts) finished a distant second. For shame. Robinson Cano (149 pts) finished fourth behind Miggy, Trout, and Adrian Beltre (210 pts). Derek Jeter (73 pts) finished seventh, which does not trigger the $2M escalator for his 2014 player option. There are still enough bonuses available for him to max that thing out at $17M, though. Rafael Soriano (one eighth and one ninth place vote) and Raul Ibanez (one tenth place vote!) also received votes while Hiroki Kuroda got shutout. I was hoping he’s grab a vote or ten, but oh well.

On the NL side of things, Buster Posey (422 pts) beat out the trio of Ryan Braun (285 pts), Andrew McCutchen (245 pts), and Yadier Molina (241 pts) pretty handily. There were like, six guys who could have legitimately won that award, but no one noticed because of the Trout-Miggy stuff. The full ballots are here (AL, NL), and the awards season is mercifully over. On to the hot stove.

Heyman: Yankees open to two-year deal for Soriano

Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees are open to re-signing right-hander Rafael Soriano to a two-year contract even though Mariano Rivera will return next season. They haven’t made him an offer (other than the qualifying offer) and don’t appear to be in a rush to do so, however.

The Yankees are said to be fixated on one-year contracts this winter in advance of the 2014 payroll plan, but a two-year pact with Soriano would give them a made-ready replacement for Rivera when he presumably calls it a career after the season. This offseason’s two other elite free agent relievers (Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria) are both coming off Tommy John surgery and there figures to be some hesitation about giving either guy multiple years, especially Soria since it’s his second elbow reconstruction. If Scott Boras can’t get Soriano three years this winter, he never will.

Kuroda, Soriano & Swisher all decline qualifying offer

As expected, Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher, and Hiroki Kuroda have all declined their qualifying offers. The first two guys made their intentions known last night, but there was still a small chance that Kuroda would accept the one-year, $13.3M contract by today’s deadline. He’s generated enough interest so far that finding more money shouldn’t be an issue.

The Yankees are now entitled to draft pick compensation whenever one of these guys signs with another team. That pick will be a supplemental first rounder, though they won’t receive the other team’s first round pick as with the old rules. Based on last year’s slot system, each of these compensation picks will carry a seven-figure slot value, which will really help the draft pool situation. Of course the Yankees will have a hard time replacing all three of these guys if they sign elsewhere, so the pick is little more than a consolation prize.

Update: The three compensation picks are guaranteed to be somewhere in the 29th-38th overall pick range next year. Won’t be higher, won’t be lower, could be anywhere in between.

Update: Swisher & Soriano will decline qualifying offer

8:31pm: Mark Feinsand says Nick Swisher will decline the qualifying offer as well, which again is not surprising. Feinsand says five teams have already showed serious interest in signing him, including the Rangers and Mariners.

7:38pm: As expected, Rafael Soriano will decline the team’s qualifying offer before tomorrow’s deadline according to Jon Heyman. If and when he signs elsewhere, the Yankees will receive a supplemental first round draft pick as compensation. Nick Swisher is also expected to decline while there’s an outside chance Hiroki Kuroda accepts. I hope he does.

Yankees make qualifying offers to Swisher, Kuroda, Soriano

As expected, the Yankees have made qualifying offers to Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, and Rafael Soriano, the team announced. The offers are worth $13.3M this offseason and the players have until next Friday to accept or reject. Making the offer allows the Yankees to receive a supplemental first round draft pick if the player signs elsewhere.

Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte did not receive qualifying offers since it’s basically Yankees or retirement for them. Russell Martin was always a long shot for the offer and it’s not surprising the Yankees passed.

When bad contracts go good

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

As expected, Rafael Soriano opted out of the final year of his contract with the Yankees on Wednesday afternoon. He’ll try to parlay his big season as Mariano Rivera‘s injury replacement into another fat multi-year contract, like the one the club’s ownership gave him two winters ago. Unless Mo retires or something really crazy happens, the two sides will part ways after one decent and one really good year.

Soriano, 32, pitched to a 2.94 ERA (3.56 FIP) in 107 innings with the Yankees over the last two years. Thirty-nine and one-third of those innings came last year (4.12 ERA and 3.97 FIP), when he struggled for a few weeks before missing more than two months with the fifth elbow injury of his career. The other 67.2 innings came this year when he was brilliant (2.26 ERA and 3.32 FIP), stepping in for Rivera and going 42-for-46 in save chances. The ninth inning stability he provided in place of Mo was enormous as well, that was a situation that could have easily spiraled out of control.

Like many others, I trashed Soriano’s contract when the deal was announced. The silly opt-out clauses meant the Yankees carried all the risk, which wasn’t ideal since his history of elbow trouble meant he was riskier than most players in general. If he got hurt and/or stunk, they were stuck with him. If he pitched well, they wouldn’t get to keep him. Heck, the only reason Soriano was with the team this season was because he got hurt and kinda stunk last year, enough so that he couldn’t get more money on the open market. Now that he had a great year, he’s gone. The Yankees still got to enjoy that great year of course, but considering that Rivera is still flirting with retirement, wouldn’t it be nice to have Soriano around for another year? Instead, he and Scott Boras held all the cards.

Considering everything involved, Soriano’s time in pinstripes went about as well as possible. He was overpaid but so is basically every free agent reliever, it comes with the territory. The Yankees managed to squeeze one elite year out of him and got lucky in the sense that his 2011 elbow problem didn’t turn into something more serious, something serious enough to turn him and his contract into an albatross. The Yankees rolled the dice and were ultimately rewarded, but I really hope they don’t make a habit out of letting players control future roster spots and payroll with opt-out clauses like this.