The Yankees have been searching for ways to upgrade their pitching staff since missing out on Cliff Lee, but the free agent market was shallow this offseason and they are unwilling to pay closer money for setupmen. Meaning their options are very limited.
But maybe they’re only willing to overpay for the available setupmen and if one were to become available whom they really like they could decide to give closer money to a setupman. Enter Joakim Soria.
Soria is a totally different animal than the other closers that have been on the market like Rafael Soriano, Bobby Jenks, Brian Fuentes, and even Kerry Wood. For one thing he’s younger than all of them, he’s cheaper than all of them, and perhaps most of all he’s better than all of them.
Soria is 26 years old and in his four years in the majors he has a 2.01 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. He has an impressive walk and strikeout rate at 9.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 over his career. He’s also owed just $26.75 million over the next four years including only $10 million over the next two years. Not exactly closer money.
The problem has been that it didn’t seem like the Yankees could acquire him. As such an attractive and cheap young player it wasn’t likely the Royals would trade him, but on top of that Soria has a no trade clause that blocks any deals to the Yankees. Apparently though the latter isn’t a problem. In an interview with the Mexican newpaper the Vanguard Soria said the no trade clause in his contract doesn’t matter (translated from Spanish via MLB Trade Rumors):
“I didn’t put it there, my agent did, as a strategy,” Soria said. “But if the Royals decide to trade me to New York I would gladly go to play with the Yankees or any other team… I repeat, I would not block a trade to the Yankees. I like to play baseball and I would play with any team.”
This would be great news for the Yankees, but the initial problem still exists – the Royals don’t want to trade Soria and even if they did he wouldn’t come cheap.
Last July the Yankees discussed a potential deal with the Royals for Soria and the discussion started with their top prospect Jesus Montero. So while $10 million over the next two years isn’t too much to pay for a setupman a top prospect followed by bunch of other highly touted prospects could be.
The Royals wanted Montero plus at least one of the Killer B’s (Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, and Manuel Banuelos), Eduardo Nunez, and another pitcher for Zack Greinke. A package for Soria could be cheaper, but probably not much cheaper. Montero and a Killer B would probably be a must, but the other prospects might not need to be as headline. This is all speculation, but still seems extremely expensive and it is hard seeing Brian Cashman swinging a trade like this.
Still Soria is a very intriguing pitcher. The fact that he’s signed for the next four years means that the Yankees would have a built in replacement for Mariano Rivera after he retires in two years. Until then the Yankees would have one hell of a bullpen.
What do you think? Should the Yankees bite the bullet and go after Soria? Or should they hang-on to their prospects and find another way to improve their pitching staff?