Late last night, the Detroit Tigers confirmed that they had acquired reliever Joakim Soria from the Texas Rangers, sending pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel the other way. Although some have opined that the Tigers paid a rather steep price for Soria, he will give them the solid back-end-of-the-bullpen arm that they have been yearning for the entire season.
Furthermore, it has begun to look increasingly unlikely that Joel Hanrahan, who the Tigers signed to a one-year, $1 million contract in early May, will be able to contribute to the Tigers at all this season. Therefore, the Tigers desperately needed to make a move such as this one, even if it meant that they had to overpay.
Tigers fans should remember Soria from his days with the Kansas City Royals, where he posted a 2.40 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP while racking up 160 saves from 2007-11. Soria, however, missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Rangers would later bring him in as a reclamation project, signing him to a two-year, $8 million deal in December of 2012.
Soria was decent last year, posting a 3.80 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP through 23.2 innings, but this season he has once again begun to resemble the dominant closer he was in Kansas City. His ERA currently sits at 2.70 with a microscopic WHIP of 0.87, and he has saved 17 games for the last place Rangers. He has also recorded 42 strikeouts in 33.1 innings pitched.
Tigers relievers currently have an ERA of 4.37, which is 26th in MLB. Soria should certainly be able to help bring that number down, regardless of the role that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus gives him.
Even though Soria has plenty of closing experience, it does not look as if he is going to supplant current closer Joe Nathan, at least not yet. Soria could eventually take over the closer’s role, however, if Nathan continues to struggle, as he gives them a more-than-qualified backup option.