It was quite a shock when the Washington Nationals signed Rafael Soriano before the 2012 season. They had two closers on their roster in Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, and Soriano was known for being a prickly teammate who mostly kept to himself. There is also an air of arrogance about him, especially based on the song to which he runs out of the bullpen which translates to “the king of the mound.” Soriano was solid for the Nationals in 2013, saving 43 games in 49 opportunities.
Soriano’s 43 save season was not without its blemishes as he seemed significantly uninterested in non-save situations and was pulled from a game or two he was not saving. With the amount of money Washington is paying Soriano, that can definitely be frustrating. The Nationals do own an option on Soriano if he finishes 120 games from 2013-14, so any game not finished could have been a blessing in disguise. With that in mind, and based on other bullpen obligations, could Soriano be traded at this year’s trade deadline?
It certainly stands to reason since the Nationals definitely would not want to pay a 35-year-old closer $14 million for the 2015 season. That’s especially true given that Soriano’s velocity has dropped the past few seasons, and it really only takes one bad personality to bring a team down. The last part probably will not matter, but trading Soriano still makes sense. He’s a veteran with a lot of closing experience and has shown he is very durable. Soriano could reel in a solid return for the Nationals if Mike Rizzo plays his cards.
The Nationals still have Clippard and Storen on their roster, and they also have other prospects in the pipeline who could take one of their spots if they were to take over the closer’s role mid-season. There is a lot of logic behind dealing Soriano, but most of all it saves money and allows financial flexibility for the years to come even if their other options are becoming progressively more expensive.