Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is on record as saying he wants another big-name relief pitcher for 2013.
How about Rafael Soriano?
Soriano is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract with the New York Yankees, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
That’s surprising because Soriano is expected to make $14 million next season in the final year of his three-year deal with the team. I can’t imagine another team is going to offer him that much but it’s likely Soriano wants to cash in the free agent market after a stellar 42-save season.
Soriano is still just 32 years old and he has had proven success as a closer in both 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays and 2012 with the Yankees. With the Rays in ’10, Soriano led the league with 45 saves, posted a phenomenal 1.73 ERA and 4.07 strikeout to walk ratio, and earned both Cy Young and MVP votes.
With the Yankees last there, Soriano took over as the closer when Mariano Rivera and David Robertson got hurt. Soriano finished with 42 saves in 46 chances, a 2.26 ERA that was actually at just 1.57 as of August 26, and an impressive 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Soriano likely wants to close again considering the success he had in 2012, especially since he will have to split eighth innings with Robertson in 2013.
He won’t get to close games if the Phillies sign him, but Soriano will get sole possession of eighth innings in 2013. The Phillies expected Chad Qualls to be their eighth inning guy last year, but he was so ineffective he was released.
Antonio Bastardo struggled to find his consistency for much of the season and Michael Stutes was injured.
The problem with getting Soriano is that he will likely command a deal similar to the one he signed prior to 2011 when he agreed to $35 million over three years. Soriano is a little older but he’s coming off another successful season as a closer, and he may get close to $25-$30 million over three years.
If the Phillies agree to a deal with Soriano, they will be spending a ridiculous amount of money on two guys that pitch about 60-70 innings per season, seeing as Jonathan Papelbon is making $50 million over four years.
But what the Phillies will be getting is a right-handed relief pitcher that can nail down the eighth inning with ease, which is a huge upgrade over last year’s bullpen rotation of Phillippe Aumont, Michael Schwimer, and Justin De Fratus.