Monday, January 10, 2011

BD Hot Stove: Soria-Yes SoriaNO | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove: Soria-Yes SoriaNO | Baseball Digest

Having lost out in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes and still waiting for Andy Pettitte to make a decision, word is (via Jon Heyman) that the Yankees are considering signing Rafael Soriano to a big money deal to set up Mariano Rivera. Many Yankees fans are clearly in a panic because of the aforementioned missing out and waiting, and say throw caution and much money at the wind, er Soriano.

I’m hear to say the Yankees would be better off working a deal with Kansas City for their stud closer, Joakim Soria. You are now saying, “Why would the Royals deal Soria? He’s young, he doesn’t make much money.” And I would have to tend to agree with you, however, he won’t be making little money for long. At least not KC’s version of little money. Also, the Royals aren’t going to be a strong team any time soon, so why hold on to such a valuable commodity? One that will have an impact in 60-65 games.

Soria, who will be 27 in May, is signed through this season with the team holding option on years 2012-2014. The closer made $3M in 2010 and gets a bump to $4M in 2011. After that is when Soria starts to come in to more money. $6M in 2012, $8M in 2013, and $8.75M in the final year of the deal. That is not the kind of money KC likes to pay out. The Yankees, obviously, don’t mind it. Soria has been relatively durable, making over 60 appearances in three of his four big league seasons. He missed part of 2009 with shoulder soreness, but bounced back in fine fashion.

Teams win with starting pitching and any team that has Bruce Chen in it’s rotation is going nowhere fast. With Zack Greinke gone, KC’s starting rotation at the moment is Gil Meche (only 190 IP over the last two years due to injuries), the aforemention mediocre Chen, journeyman Vin Mazzaro, Sean O’Sullivan, and one time prospect Luke Hochever. That’s not an 80 win starting staff.

Let’s start the deal off with Joba Chamberlain. Many of you will scoff or laugh, but hear me out. Chamberlain would be closer to his home, to his father, to his son. The Royals could/should convert Chamberlain back into a starter. One that would no longer have to answer endless “what’s wrong?” questions from the New York media or pitch in front of the scrutiny of an over expectant Yankees Stadium crowd. Still just 25, the right-hander with a multitude of pitches could still be a succesful middle of the rotation starter.

The Yankees would also have to include one of their bigger pitching prospects- A Dellante Betances or Manny Banuelos or Andrew Brackman (the least likely to be dealt) perhaps. Maybe one of the catchers from the multitude the Yankees now possess. Money of course is also always part of the picture and the Yankees could help things along by picking up Meche and the final year of his contract. At best he’s the number five starter. At worst, the Yankees try to swing him somewhere else for a low level prospect. Soria would set up Mariano Rivera, get occassional save opportunities himself and take over when the closer of all closers calls it quits.

Getting back to Rafael Soriano…I’ve said before he’s a great pitcher and would be a great pick up for most teams. But the Yankees are not one of them. To pay closer money for three years for Soriano to be a set up man does not make sense. Soriano is 4 1/2 years older than Soria and had serious elbow issues in 2004 (Tommy John surgery) and 2008. Both injuries occurred after two straight years of heavy workloads. I’m not saying he will have any health issues in 2011, but Soriano has made 141 appearances over the last two seasons, the highest back to back totals of his career.

Right now age and durability makes a Sori deal a better risk than a Soriano signing. Finally, Soriano would also cost the Yankees a draft choice in this June’s amateur draft, which is reportedly loaded with talent, and that is something Yankees GM Brian Cashman, for the moment, refuses to do.

The bottom line is one way or another the Yankees could come up with a deal suitable for KC and comfortable to Cashman.

Rumors, News, and Transactions

The Padres have signed recently acquired Jason Bartlett to a two year contract extension worth $11M. The deal also has a vesting option for 2013.

Pittsburgh proved once again they’ll just about signing anyone by re-signing much traveled Jorge Julio to a minor league deal.

The hip surgery for Mariners closer David Aardsma turned out to be more complicated than originally thought so he may not be ready for opening day after all.

Scott Schoeneweis told the Boston Globe he’s going to try to make a comeback this season.

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