The Kansas City Royals turned down the club option on closer Joakim Soria this week allowing him to become a free agent. The Royals are trying to re-sign Soria, but I am not sure it was the right option to potentially let him leave in the first place.
I understand the thought process of General Manager Dayton Moore; Soria was in line to make $8 million in 2013 if the Royals picked up his option, but the rehab from Tommy John surgery meant that he might not pitch before June. It’s quite a bit of money for a very unsure return. With the success of Greg Holland in the closer role in the last two months of 2012 it makes sense to think that perhaps it would be better to try to get Soria for a bit cheaper. Given the uncertainty surrounding him he is also less likely to be a target for other teams.
But the problem is that it is an awful risk. Soria has been one of the best closers in MLB since making his debut in 2007 and as promising as Holland looked in August and September the fact is that it is a small sample size; Soria has proven his efficacy over several years. There’s also the fact that although Soria might not be back until June, that is very much on the latter end of the spectrum. He has been ahead of schedule so far and could well be back before then.
There is also the fact that uncertainty or no, a good closer is hard to find and there will be other teams willing to take a punt. And a punt on a rehabbing Soria is almost certainly a safer one than the punt on the talented, but largely untried, Holland that the Royals seem to be happy to take. It might work out well in the end. Might. But I don’t like the risk and I would be happier if the Royals had simply locked up one of the best closers in the game when they had the chance.