Friday, January 14, 2011

Rafael Soriano, Yankees Reportedly Reach 3-Year Deal

Rafael Soriano led the American League in saves in 2010, but he apparently will be a high-paid setup man in 2011.

Soriano has agreed to terms with the Yankees, reports. The three-year deal reportedly is worth about $35 million. Soriano also apparently can opt out of the deal after one or two years -- though at that salary it's difficult to fathom why he would. If he opts out after next year, he'll make $11.5 million, and his salary for two years would be $21.5 million, according to the New York Times.

As New York already has a fairly well-established closer by the name of Mariano Rivera, Soriano will be pitching in the eighth inning or earlier most nights. Rivera signed a new two-year contract this offseason, and now that Trevor Hoffman has retired he's only 43 saves from taking the all-time lead. So Soriano won't get much ninth-inning work.            

Boras floated that idea last week, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman seemed to eliminate it the following day by saying the Yankees wouldn't sign a Type A free agent like Soriano because that would cause them to forfeit their first-round draft pick in 2011.

The inevitability of the pairing eventually won out, though, as the team with unlimited resources couldn't resist the lure of the highest-priced remaining free agent. The Yankees already have added free agent Pedro Feliciano to their arsenal this winter, and the two new additions will join Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson in front of Rivera.

Soriano, 31, saved 45 games for the Rays last season, posting a 1.73 ERA in 64 appearances while allowing just 36 hits in 62 1/3 innings. His departure nets Tampa Bay two more picks in a 2011 draft considered to be quite deep -- New York's first-rounder (No. 31 overall) and a supplemental first-round pick to be determined.

Prior to being traded to Tampa Bay last offseason, Soriano spent three years in Atlanta. He was outstanding in 2007 and 2009 but missed much of 2008 with injuries -- a nagging issue for him throughout his career. Soriano first broke into the majors with the Mariners in 2002 and remained with Seattle until being dealt to the Braves after the 2006 season.

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