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Monday, October 22, 2012

ARE RAFAEL SORIANO DAYS AS A YANKEE NUMBERED?

After getting swept by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS, the Yankees head into the winter with many questions. One of those questions pertains to closer Rafael Soriano. Will he opt out? If so, will the Yankees re-sign him? Though it’d be great to have Soriano for at least one more year (2013 is the final year of his contract he signed with New York prior to 2011), the Yankees may have to move on without him.
Soriano had a fantastic season filling in for the injured Mariano Rivera in the closer’s role. He recorded 42 saves, filling in for number 42, which was good for third most in the American League, with his first coming on May 10. He also posted strong strikeout and walk rates, 9.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9, respectively, in 69 games and 67.2 innings while pitching to a 2.26 ERA. To say he was a rock is an understatement, and because of this it would not be a surprise if he opts-out.

According to Joel Sherman, HERE, it’s almost a certainty that Soriano will in fact opt-out. His agent, Scott Boras, strongly suggested that his client will do so saying, “There is a strong chance he (Soriano) would have tremendous value as a free agent.”
Now, if he does opt-out, will the Yankees try to re-sign him? Personally, I doubt it. Signing Soriano to a 3-year, $35 million contract rose a few eyebrows even two years ago when he was 31. Signing him to that same contract, which I think he might get this off-season, wouldn’t make much sense in that case.

According to Jon Heyman, HERE, the Yankees will give Soriano a qualifying offer if he opts-out. This is basically a 1-year $13.3 million offer sheet that players can accept or decline. If a player accepts it, they’ll of course earn $13.3M the next year before hitting the free-agent market again. If they decline it, however, they are free to sign elsewhere, but once they sign that team’s first round pick disappears and the team that lost the player gets a compensation-round draft pick.

The final question, though it won’t involve the Yankees directly, is where will Soriano land if he hits the open market? In Sherman’s column, he suggests the Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, and Giants as suitors. The one team he left off that should at least consider him is the Detroit Tigers. I see Soriano signing a deal similar to what he signed with the Yankees in 2011, this time with Detroit. The teams that Sherman mentioned all have decent options at closer, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe Detroit’s running on a tight budget, considering they signed Prince Fielder to a huge deal, but we saw first-hand how undependable Jose Valverde is. We’ll see how it plays out.
If Soriano opts-out and leaves, we’ll never forget how awesome he was in 2012 for the Pinstripes. No one could have asked for more out of him following Rivera’s devastating injury. All told, Soriano pitched to a 2.24 ERA in 111 games while racking up 44 saves in his two-year career with New York. It’s been real, Rafael, and we wish you the best if you head elsewhere.

We'll never forget the Untuck!




--Jesse Schindler, BYB Lead Staff Writer
Follow me on Twitter @SchindlerJesse



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