The Yankees made their first “big splash” in the free agent market yesterday, signing former Rays’ closer Rafael Soriano to a three year deal worth $35 million, which does include an opt out clause after each of the first two seasons.
Now obviously, Soriano will not be the closer for the Yankees this year or in 2012. I think Mariano Rivera will probably get the job done, just a hunch though. So that means the Yanks are paying a lot of money and giving up a first round draft pick for a setup man, but I still think it is a good move.
The Yankees for years have searched for a consistent bridge to Mariano in the ninth inning, and they have finally found their man with Soriano, who had an outstanding year in 2010.
Not only did he lead the league in saves, but he had a very impressive 1.73 ERA and a 0.802 WHIP over 62 innings pitched. He also had 57 strikeouts compared to his 14 walks.
The only question I have is will he lose any psychological edge by moving from the closer to the setup man role. We have seen time and time again that when closers are brought in during non-save situations, they tend to get hit around a little more. We will see how that works out.
But if Soriano remains true to form, then the Yankees have made a great signing, because this move takes some of the pressure off of their weaker starting rotation by shortening games. Joe Girardi is going to have no problem pulling A.J. Burnett or anyone else in the sixth inning and handing the ball to his suddenly strong bullpen.
Overall, a great signing in my opinion, and the Yankees still have about $20 million left in their so called “budget” to sign an extra outfielder and likely a cheap, low-risk, high-reward starting pitcher.