Musing On Rafael Soriano

When Rafael Soriano initially signed with the Yankees, the contract looked awful. Not only did the team lose a draft pick, but they guaranteed a non-closer $35 million over three years. It was a high price to pay for a setup man, but even worse, the Yankees gave him two player options, and it put all the risk in the organization's hands. If Soriano had a great season, and somehow became undervalued by the massive contract, he could bail on the team for a bigger pay day, however, if he was injured or dreadful, the Yankees had no other options but to pay him until the contract was over.

By the end 2011, Soriano already had an injury shortened season under his belt where he pitched to a 3.97 FIP over 39.1 IP. At the beginning of 2012, he started the season as the 7th inning reliever, and it was hard to imagine that the Yankees could find a way to make this contract work. All the pieces fell in the right place for Soriano, first Mariano Rivera was injured, then David Robertson was injured, and Rafael Soriano got his shot to close. He posted a 3.32 FIP, good for a 2.26 ERA, and earned 42 saves.

Soriano bailed on the $14 million remaining on his contract and hit the free agent market earlier this offseason. It was first thought that the Tigers would target him, but they've said multiple times that they have no interest. Then there was a connection to the Giants, which is now outdated. The Pirates have no interest, the Red Sox don't want to pay the money, and his agent, Scott Boras, looks like he's getting a little nervous. As Jeff Passan points out, Scott Boras has a notorious reputation for waiting out the first few months of the offseason for teams to make a desperate pick up in January. Unfortunately for both Boras and Soriano, the new CBA has changed the way free agents and their draft pick cost are valued, and it looks like it's having an adverse affect on the market for some players, as it did to Ryan Madson last season.

If the price has truly fallen on Rafael Soriano, the Yankees may have some interest, at least on a one year deal. As the team stands, Mariano Rivera, who's recovering from his ACL tear, projects to be the closer, David Robertson the setup man, and then a lot of questions loom. Joba Chamberlain and David Aardsma are high upside relievers that have yet to show prolonged recovery from Tommy John surgery. This might make Boone Logan your most dependable reliever after Robertson. Assuming there are no injures, the bullpen looks good, but the Yankees are hardly a team to start a season without depth.

In other years, the Yankees may have had interest in Soriano long-term, but with the budget to meet in 2014, there's no way they could afford to hand a reliever an eight figure multi-year deal. But, if Soriano's value has fallen so far that he'll receive's Ryan Madson money, a one year $8.5 million contract, there may be some hope for a reunion.

This also depends on how the team values their draft picks. The Yankees will have at least one first round pick in 2013, and a supplemental first round pick for Nick Swisher. Depending on how things shape up, these are 27th and 32nd overall picks, which held slot values of $1.675 million and $1.55 million toward's a team's 2012 draft budget. If the Yankees decide to re-sign Soriano, they'll lose out on the additional supplemental first round pick they'd receive from him signing with another team, and thus a bit over $1.5 million towards their draft budget in 2013. What that's worth at this point is a mystery in the early days of the new CBA. Either way, it may be killing the value of Boras' clients.