Typically when a team’s closer who is coming off a season with a 2.26 ERA, a 9.2 K/9, who held opponents to a .639 OPS the previous season would be upset if that pitcher opted out of the final year of his contract. Not the Yankees.
At least not according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, who said that the Yankees are glad to be out from under their $14 million commitment to Rafael Soriano. Instead they will use that money to address other issues and could even spent a portion of it to replace him in the bullpen.
This shouldn’t come as shocking news. For one thing, Brian Cashman pretty much washed his hands of the signing from day one so he’s got to be happy. The Yankees will likely have Mariano Rivera returning next season so they already have a replacement closer. On top of both of those things, the Yankees will be getting another draft pick after the first round if Soriano signs with another team.
As Sherman notes, Soriano took a big risk opting out of his deal. There is a lot of volatility in that position and the last two World Series champions won without the closer they started with on Opening Day. Even the Tigers, who made it to the Series, dumped their closer, Jose Valverde, after he was one of the most dominant relievers in the game in 2011. So teams will be weary to offer Soriano a huge deal.
The Yankees have been said to be willing to offer Soriano a two-year deal, but hopefully their strategy will be to wait him out. If he stays on the market long enough there is a chance he could get desperate. Heck, maybe they could even get him cheaper than the $14 million they were supposed to spend on him. After all it was just a year ago when Soriano’s agent, Scott Boras, thought he had a $40 million deal worked out with the Phillies for Ryan Madson until that deal fell through and Madson was forced to settle for an $8.5 million deal (by the way, Madson was another closer to start, but not to finish the season in that role).