Thursday, January 13, 2011

BD Hot Stove Breaking News: Yankees Sign Soriano | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove Breaking News: Yankees Sign Soriano | Baseball Digest

Unable to come up with a quality pitcher to strengthen the starting rotation, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman went to Plan ‘B’- shore up the bullpen. Even if it meant exceeding the market value.

SI’s Jon Heyman reported tonight that the Yankees and reliever Rafael Soriano have agreed to a three year deal, worth approximately $35M. Cashman obviously felt he needed to make a statement to his team and, possibly, the Yankees fan base by making a big off-season move after failing to land Cliff Lee. Some will call it a panic move, but it undoubtedly makes the Yankees bullpen one of their strongest features.

Soriano is coming off the best season of his career, one in which he saved 45 games in 48 chances for the divisional rival Tampa Bay Rays. The hard throwing right-hander was looking for closer money, but evidently was not finding a team to give it to him. He’ll set up for Yankees eventuAl Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, at least for the next two seasons- that’s the length of Rivera’s new contract, and will be an insurance policy in case the 41-yr old Rivera is injured. Should Rivera retire after his current deal, Soriano could then step into the closer’s role.

It was just the other day on the hot stove that I discussed the potential injury risk that Soriano presents. He’s been DL’ed for long periods of time after his previous two sets of back to back seasons with heavy workloads. He’s coming off a third stint (141 innings in 2009-2010) on the heels of an elbow injury that caused him to miss most of the 2008 season (He also had Tommy John surgery in 2004).

But if he remains healthy, he’ll give the Yankees their best 1-2 punch out of the bullpen since Rivera set up John Wetteland in 1996. Brian Cashman is banking on it.

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