Tag: Joakim Soria

Joakim Soria to Royals: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Joakim Soria was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the most recent MLB deadline and was evidently only a short-term rental. The Pirates determined Soria wasn’t worth keeping or paying ample money for, and now the free-agent reliever has signed with the Kansas City Royals. 

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported it was a three-year agreement, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports would confirm the report, noting the deal will be worth $25 million.

Heyman alluded to why the Royals wanted to bring in Soria:

This past season was the second in which Soria was traded at the deadline, and the instability had to be a bit frustrating for Soria, who has enjoyed a rather stellar MLB career as a middle reliever and closer. After playing for three different teams since 2013, he returns to Kansas City, where he played the first five years of his career.

Soria doesn’t have the elite arm talent to be a truly intimidating presence on the mound, but he has a versatile array of pitches that keeps hitters off balance. A four-seam fastball is Soria‘s go-to pitch and is effective even though it averages approximately 93 mph.

Based on how his stuff is in any outing, Soria can adjust his tactics thanks to a solid slider and curveball, which the 31-year-old mixes up well to remain less predictable. His changeup velocity reaches the upper 80s, but the curve is a more drastic off-speed pitch that registers in the low 70s.

Over Soria‘s last 13 regular-season appearances, he didn’t allow a single run. The Pirates must feel confident that their bullpen will remain stout to let an experienced arm in Soria walk away on the open market.

The Royals have to be enthused about Soria‘s return. He can fit in anywhere and thrive in whatever relief role the club asks of him.


Note: Advanced pitching stats courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net.

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Joakim Soria: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent RP

Veteran reliever Joakim Soria picked an opportune time to hit free agency after posting his best ERA since 2010. Given the always-robust market for bullpen arms, especially ones with a history of closing games, the 31-year-old figures to draw a lot of interest this winter. 

Continue for updates.

Red Sox Among Teams Interested in Soria

Wednesday, Nov. 11

According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, the Boston Red Sox have shown at least some level of interest in Soria. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reported on Tuesday that two of his former teams, Detroit and Texas, were also looking at the right-hander. 

The Red Sox certainly seem like a strong fit for Soria because of his connection to team president Dave Dombrowski, who traded for the former All-Star in July 2014 when he was general manager of the Tigers. 

A lot of relievers tend to be volatile in free agency, and Soria is no exception. He has had Tommy John surgery twice in his career, most recently in 2012, and last year was the first time since 2011 he reached 50 innings pitched. 

The upside for Soria is terrific, as he posted a 2.53 ERA with 24 saves and 64 strikeouts in 67.2 innings with Detroit and Pittsburgh last season. Closers will always be in demand, so right now, he has all the leverage in negotiations with at least three interested teams already. 

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3 Ways the Detroit Tigers Have Already Improved This Season

Five weeks into the 2015 MLB season, the Detroit Tigers (19-13) are looking up at the Kansas City Royals (20-12) in the American League Central Division standings.

A one-game deficit in no way constitutes “languishing,” but the Tigers are a team accustomed to being front-runners. Winning four straight division titles is testament to that.

Despite currently playing chaser, their .594 winning percentage is nothing to be sneezed at. In fact, if you extrapolate this figure over a full season, the Tigers are on pace for 96 wins—six more than 2014. Ergo, you can make a good argument for progress in the early going.

There have been some noticeable causes. With a stronger bench, manager Brad Ausmus has been able to tinker with his lineup and manipulate matchups to the team’s favor. Defensively, the team is also night-and-day compared to last year. Meanwhile, the bullpen is still a major concern (sigh), but one pitcher is shining brightly in a murky sea of mediocrity.

Click “next” for extended analysis on what’s getting the thumbs-up right now in Motown.

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Why the Detroit Tigers Should Trade Joakim Soria

Joakim Soria had a forgettable time with the Detroit Tigers last season. After being shipped over in a trade from Texas he pitched poorly in the regular season (4.91 ERA), and even worse in the postseason (0-1, 45.00 ERA in two games).

Despite Soria’s travails in the old English D, the Tigers still picked up his one-year option in October. He projects to be the setup man for closer Joe Nathan in 2015.

With this pair in their bullpen, Detroit boasts the luxury of two relievers who both rank in the top 10 in saves among active players.

Owning two premium arms at the back end of their bullpen puts the Tigers in a very strong position. Elite stoppers are among the game’s hottest commodities, and needy teams are often willing to trade away their prized talent in order to secure their services. A prime example of this is the Los Angeles Angels coughing up four prospects to the Padres in exchange for Huston Street last year.

Despite the milk turning sour for Soria in Motown, his resume still places him among baseball’s best relief pitchers. Before shifting to Detroit, he was lights out in a Rangers’ uniform in 2014. Check out the righty’s numbers compared to his peers:

Soria compiled these stats while racking up 17 saves, which raised his career total to 178. This man is a lockdown closer when given the opportunity.

While the Tigers are content to use him in a setup role, other MLB teams would relish the opportunity to install him as their closer. So, which teams would be viable candidates?

The Toronto Blue Jays are one club that quickly spring to mind. The acquisitions of Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Michael Saunders this offseason prove that their switch to win-now mode is genuine.

Would Soria be an ideal fit north of the border? You betcha.

They are currently without a proven closer, and rumor has it that the Jays are now shopping the trade market for one.

What’s in it for Detroit?

The Tigers have dotted a lot of i’s and crossed plenty of t’s already this winter. The signing of Tom Gorzelanny earlier this week was just their latest piece of business.

But, while the 32-year-old veteran is a sound pick-up, he is not the deadly southpaw Detroit is searching for. It so happens that the Blue Jays possess just the right man.

Brett Cecil emerged as one of the best lefty relievers in the American League last season. According to Fangraphs, the 28-year-old ranked seventh in the AL in K/9 (12.83) and eighth in FIP (2.34) for qualified relievers.

Over the past two decades, a litany of lefties has been trusted to do the business for Detroit. The likes of Phil Coke, Ian Krol (who may still emerge), Daniel Schlereth, Duane Below, Charlie Furbush, Bobby Seay, Tim Byrdak, Jamie Walker, Heath Murray, Bill Krueger and others have never quite cut the mustard in a Tigers’ uniform. Cecil would provide them with the southpaw that they have been coveting for many years.

Not since the days of Willie Hernandez in the 1980’s has Detroit boasted an imposing left-hander. A quarter of a century has been more than enough time to wait for the next one. Cecil would fulfil a different role to Detroit’s former Cy Young Award-winning closer, but he could be nearly as valuable.

There would be other benefits to acquiring the Blue Jays’ lefty. He is much cheaper than Soria, and as blessyouboys.com recently reported, Detroit is currently only a few Joel Hanrahan incentives away from passing the luxury-tax threshold. Additionally, Cecil has two years of team control left until he becomes a free agent—Soria has one.

While Cecil would be a significant loss for the Jays, they would still have the arms to absorb it. Aaron Loup and up-and-comer Rob Rasmussen give them two solid southpaws out of the pen to build a bridge to Soria as closer.

Detroit also has cover if they were to lose their eighth-inning man. Closer-in-waiting Bruce Rondon, Hanrahan (100 career saves) Al Alburquerque, as well as Cecil, would give Detroit plenty of late-inning options.

Tigers’ fans with long memories will recall that the acquisition of Hernandez occurred prior to the 1984 championship-winning season. It is probably drawing a long bow to suggest that a Soria-Cecil swap would lead Detroit to the Promised Land. But, it would cap a pretty darn good offseason in the Motor City.


Unless otherwise stated, all stats in this article are courtesy of baseballreference.com


Please note that the stats in the table were Soria‘s with Texas only


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Texas Rangers: Ron Washington’s Best Moves of the 2014 Season

The 2014 baseball season hasn’t been the kindest to Ron Washington and his Texas Rangers.

After all, they have led the big leagues in trips to the disabled list, and at one point, they had 16 players on it for one injury or another. And with 13 players currently on the DL and sitting 26 games under .500, the club is just hoping to finish the rest of the season unscathed.

Washington has had next to nothing to work with for most of the season. He was forced into converting two relievers into starters and platooning a handful of players at second base, and his lineup cards soon became filled with prospects and minor leaguers.

And although the Rangers are tied with the Colorado Rockies for the worst record in baseball, Washington has done a decent job with the roster he has.

The eighth-year manager isn’t going to be taking home any awards this year, but he continues to show an ability to lead this team.

Here are his best managerial decisions of the 2014 season. They in no way rank with his back-to-back trips to the World Series, but they do carry some significance considering the team’s current standing.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz Surronding David Price, Joakim Soria and More

The MLB All-Star break came and went, and now the 30 major league franchises have no choice but to stare down the rest of the season and decide whether they are in the buyers or sellers camp in 2014.

July 31 is the trade deadline, and teams would be loathe to linger on the deals that can either set them up for future success or bring in the high-caliber talent that will put them over the top in their respective divisions. 

Pitching, as always, it as a premium this late in the season. Let’s check out the buzz on some of the better pitchers who could be on the move this month.


Rays Continue to Engage in David Price Trade Talks

Let’s start off with David Price, the man who’s seemingly led the charge when it comes to midseason trade rumors in the major leagues. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Seattle Mariners may be looking to deal a few high-profile prospects to secure Price and/or Ben Zobrist from the Tampa Bay Rays:

The Rays are said to have talked to the Mariners about pitching prospect Taijuan Walkerplus two or three other top young players in talks involving pitcher David Price, league sources said. Talks are ongoing and fluid, and deals being discussed could include just Price from Tampa Bay, Price plus Ben Zobrist or Zobrist alone.

Price is 9-7 on the year with a 3.23 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP, per Baseball-Reference.com. The Rays are 44-53 on the season and operate on a very limited budget. To his credit, Price has been very understanding about all the talk surrounding his situation with the team.

“Since 2012, (the Rays and I) both understood that for Tampa to continue the kind of success we’ve had over the past five or six years, this is the way they operate. I would love to stay there and for us to continue to be successful. But I don’t know if that’s a possibility,” he said, via ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.

The Mariners have a wealth of prospects to offer. Taijuan Walker is a tall, right-handed pitcher with a bright future ahead of him. The 21-year-old has thrown just 10 innings so far this year with the big club, giving up seven hits and four earned runs while striking out nine. He would be a tantalizing replacement for Price, especially if the Rays are looking for like-for-like players from other teams.

Developing young players is a hallmark of the Rays’ recent success, and this could be a trade that is too good for the team to pass up, as it looks to move one expensive player for several cost-effective building blocks.


Phillies Would Rather Move Lee Over Hamels

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Philadelphia Phillies would be more inclined to trade starting pitcher Cliff Lee than Cole Hamels this season.

The Phillies are dead last in the NL East and could be looking to bolster their farm system, which was ranked 25th by Baseball Prospectus‘ Jason Parks in February 2014.

As Heyman writes, both pitchers have no-trade clauses, and Hamels is more likely to use his in a possible trade: 

Both Lee and Hamels have no-trades with at least 20 teams on them, but people around the team suggest Hamels is more likely to invoke his, as he wants to remain in Philly. Lee, like closer Jonathan Papelbon, would likely choosing winning over city, they say.

If the Phillies are willing to sell a top-of-the-line starter to revamp the organization, they would almost certainly get more for Hamels than Lee.  

Both pitchers are left-handed, always a plus, but Hamels is having the better season and is five years younger than Lee. 

Lee is currently on the disabled list and is 4-4 on the year with a 3.18 ERA. At 35 years old, franchises around the league may not be looking to get much more out of him than a solid performance down the stretch run this season. Hamels, sporting a 3-5 record and a 2.93 ERA, would be a blockbuster move that could land the Phillies a wealth of excellent prospects.


Tigers Are Looking at Joakim Soria

The Detroit Tigers are looking for a reliever to bolster the bullpen for the second half of the season. According to Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, they have their eyes on Texas Rangers reliever Joakim Soria:

The Rangers are in an interesting position. They’ve won at least 90 games over the past four seasons, but injuries to the likes of Prince Fielder and inconsistent performances have them in last place in the AL West this season.

They may not be quite ready to start giving up solid veterans in the hopes of turning their play around over the next couple of seasons.

The right-handed Soria boasts a 2.60 ERA with 16 saves and 40 strikeouts in 30.1 innings pitched this season. He could fill the role of set-up man for the Tigers or perhaps supplant closer Joe Nathan, who has five blown saves and a 5.61 ERA on the year.

Soria is used to taking on the closer role, as his 176 career saves will attest to, so he may not be best suited for a typical reliever role where he is called upon to eat innings. The Tigers will likely have to give up players or prospects that the Rangers believe will set them up for a bounce-back season in 2015.

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Is Brian Wilson or Joakim Soria the Better Soriano Replacement for the Yankees?

One reason the New York Yankees are not—and should not be—interested in re-signing reliever Rafael Soriano to the four-year, $60 million deal he’s reportedly seeking is because there are plenty of bargains to be found on the free-agent market.

Two former closers, in particular, are the sort of low-risk, high-reward proposition the Yankees should be making as they try to keep their spending low and their payroll within range of the $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014. 

At the end of October, the Kansas City Royals declined Joakim Soria‘s $8 million option for 2013, giving him a $750,000 buyout instead. Soria missed all of this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

San Francisco Giants reliever Brian Wilson may soon join him in free agency. The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Henry Schulman reports that the Giants don’t want to bring back Wilson for 80 percent of his 2012 salary, equaling $6.8 million. Wilson is also coming off reconstructive elbow surgery and Sergio Romo is now entrenched as the Giants closer. 

Either pitcher could be a nice low-cost replacement for Soriano in the Yankees bullpen. Both Soria or Wilson could also serve as a backup closer for Mariano Rivera. But which of them would be a better fit?

Shortly after hitting free agency, Soria‘s agent let it be known that his client would be willing to pitch in a setup role for the Yankees because of the opportunity to play with Rivera.

As of yet, however, the Yankees haven’t contacted Soria about such a possibility. Perhaps general manager Brian Cashman is waiting until after the team re-signs Rivera before making another move for the bullpen. Additionally, he may be waiting to see how the market develops for Soriano. 

Meanwhile, Wilson’s preference is reportedly to return to the Giants. But San Francisco doesn’t want to just pay him without knowing how healthy he is.

The team would like to sign Wilson for a much lower base salary and give Wilson the opportunity to earn his former paycheck back through various incentives. Wilson, however, thinks his seven seasons with the Giants—four of which were excellent—warrant more financial reward. 

To be certain, Wilson’s act would be big—and possibly become unbearable—in New York. The man loves having a camera and microphone in front of him and plenty of those would follow him around in the country’s biggest media market. If Wilson wanted to keep his brand thriving, the Yankees would probably be the best team for him.

However, a big part of Wilson’s brand would end up in a trash bag if he signed with the Yanks. The team has an infamous policy against players sporting any more facial hair than a mustache. Wilson’s beard would have to go if he donned the pinstripes. But frankly, doesn’t Wilson need to get rid of that monstrosity anyway? 

Wilson’s act probably plays far better around Giants teammates who are accustomed to his quirky personality. With a straightlaced team like the Yankees, he might have to tone his personality down a bit. 

The Yankees would presumably have no such concerns with Soria. He’s a quieter, less showy personality who just does his job and leaves it at that.

The most controversial thing ever associated with Soria was a nickname that Royals fans gave him, tabbing him “The Mexicutioner.” But the reliever eventually asked for the nickname to be retired because he was concerned about it being associated with the extreme violence taking place in Mexico. 

That’s a guy who will probably fit in a clubhouse with Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Rivera much better. 

But what about from a baseball standpoint? 

Both Wilson and Soria have struck out batters at approximately the same rate over their careers. Wilson strikes out 9.6 batters per nine innings, while Soria punches out 9.7 per game. Either one would be an excellent choice to bring into a tight, late-inning situation that requires a strikeout.

However, Soria distances himself from Wilson when it comes to walks and hits allowed per nine innings. During his five major league seasons, Soria has averaged 6.9 hits and 2.5 walks per game. His WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is 1.043.

Compare that to Wilson, who’s averaged eight hits and four walks per game. His WHIP is 1.338. 

If we’re talking about a setup reliever, the pitcher who allows fewer hits and walks is probably the way to go. Soria thus looks better suited for such a role with the Yankees. 

I’ve argued in a past article that the Yankees could arguably get by without either Rivera or Soriano in their bullpen next season. But we now know Rivera is coming back. David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain should be capable setup men. The Yanks are also already working in a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery in David Aardsma

But if you’re of the belief that a bullpen can never have enough live arms, and Cashman has operated that way in the past, then signing Soria or Wilson makes sense. Soria would probably be a better fit with the Yankees’ way of doing business, however. 

The Yankees GM has done this with his starting rotation, taking chances on pitchers like Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Why not do it with the bullpen as well? 


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Is Joakim Soria the Closer of the Future for the New York Yankees?

Longtime New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera thought long and hard about hanging up his spikes for good after tearing his ACL way back in May, but Erik Boland of Newsday reported over the weekend that Mo has decided he wants to come back for one last hurrah in 2013.

Assuming he and the Yankees are able to agree on a new contract, the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball will once again be suiting up in pinstripes next season.

But what of the land beyond 2013? Who will take Mo’s place once he finally retires?

Rafael Soriano was a candidate for the honor once upon a time, but not so much anymore. He thrived closing games in Rivera’s stead in 2012, and he’s looking to capitalize on his performance on the free-agent market after opting out of his contract a few days after the World Series ended. He’s likely going to want too many years and too much money for the Yankees to re-sign him.

After spending the bulk of the 2012 season as a closer, Soriano may not want to be Rivera’s understudy in 2013 anyway. There is, however, at least one pitcher out there who would love to hold that position during Rivera’s (probably) final big league season.

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com, Kansas City Royals free agent right-hander Joakim Soria wouldn’t mind going from being a primary closer to being a primary setup man for Rivera. He apparently considers Rivera his idol, and he would like very much to learn under him.

“If the Yankees call, we will be all ears,” said Soria‘s agent, Oscar Suarez, on Monday. “If there is a fit, Joakim would be elated to work with Mo. He would close everywhere except there.” 

As of Monday, the Yankees hadn’t yet kicked the tires on Soria. If they do, they’ll join a list of suitors that his agent says is already eight teams deep. His agent says that a deal could be agreed to soon if the right offer comes along.

There will be some risk for whichever team signs Soria. He didn’t pitch all that well in 2011, and he’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last April. He may not be ready to pitch until after the 2013 season is underway, and then he’ll have plenty of rust to shake off to get back to where he was in 2010.

Given the circumstances, should the Yankees give Soria a look as a potential long-term replacement for Rivera? Or should they pass on him and cross that bridge when they get to it after the 2013 season is over?

Giving Soria a shot wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. There aren’t many relievers out there with his upside, and he’s an even more appealing option for the Yankees because he’s a guy who could actually take after Rivera out on the mound.

As far as Soria‘s upside is concerned, we know what it looks like. Between 2008 and 2010, he compiled 115 saves, a 1.84 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and a 4.04 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was an All-Star in 2008 and 2010, and he finished in the top 10 in the AL Cy Young voting in 2010 as well.

There’s obviously some concern about how Soria will bounce back after his surgery, and there’s also some concern about whether the 2011 season was the beginning of the end for him even before his right elbow started acting up. He regressed to post a 4.03 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP, and hitters went from hitting .216 against him in 2010 to hitting .259 against him with a .397 slugging percentage.

However, it’s not like we’re talking about a reliever who will need to recover an explosive fastball and an unhittable slider once he returns to action. Keith Law of ESPN.com pointed out in a recent Insider piece that Soria always pitched more like a starter when he came in to close things out, getting ahead in the count with his fastball and then going to his offspeed stuff to finish hitters off. Blowing hitters away wasn’t his style.

According to FanGraphs, Soria‘s fastball sat in the low 90s before he had his surgery. It may take a little bit of time for him to get back there, but it’s by no means unfair to expect him to recover that kind of velocity at some point down the road. If he does, that means he won’t have to vary his pitching style from what it was like when he was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball.

What makes Soria a particularly intriguing fit for the Yankees is that one of the pitches he features is a cut fastball. The guy he’s open to studying under, of course, just so happens to be the very man who popularized the cut fastball.

Last April, Mike Fast of Baseball Prospectus noted that Soria‘s cutter first appeared in July of 2010. It’s essentially a slower version of his fastball with more breaking action, and the idea behind implementing it seemed to be to cut down on the number of hits batters were getting off his fastball.

It worked. According to FanGraphs, hitters went from hitting .293 against Soria‘s fastball in 2009 to hitting .227 off fastballs and cutters in 2010. He saw his strikeout rate decline from 11.7 to 9.7, but he lowered his BABIP from .300 to .277.

However, hitters adjusted to what Soria had to offer in 2011. They hit .278 off his fastball, and .294 off his cutter. It didn’t help that his average cutter velocity dropped by about two miles per hour from 91.7 to 89.8, which may have been an early sign of his forthcoming arm problems.

This is an area where a year of tutelage under Rivera could potentially have a huge payoff. Soria‘s cutter clearly isn’t a totally refined pitch just yet, and it could very well become refined if he were to listen to whatever advice Mo had to give. Rivera could even teach him how to get by with a cutter that sits right around 90 rather than 92.

That’s pretty much where Mo’s cutter was at when he was on the mound early in the 2012 season. Per FanGraphs, it was only coming in at an average of around 90.6 miles per hour, yet he was still using it to hold hitters to an even .200 batting average.

Basically, the innings Rivera managed to pitch in 2012 were par for the course. He was getting by with merely decent velocity relative to what his velocity used to be like, and anybody who has been watching will know that this has been the case for quite a while now.

Rivera could throw his cutter in the mid-90s in his heyday, making it the closest thing to an unhittable pitch as yet discovered by mankind. As he got older, though, his cutter’s velocity started going down bit by bit.

It’s still been an effective pitch because Rivera knows how to locate it and when to give hitters a different look with his four-seam fastball. If he has any secrets in regards to how to vary up pitch sequences, he could pass those on to Soria.

Provided he has a good set of ears and a good head on his shoulders, Soria could basically become a Rivera clone who also features a slider, a curveball and a changeup, which is a very scary thought. Hitters wouldn’t necessarily be overpowered against him, but they’d surely be overmatched.

Now, all of this sounds good in theory, but reality has a way of making things that sound good in theory and killing them before they’re even off the operating table.

In this case, much depends on Soria‘s stuff eventually being close to where it was when he was one of baseball’s most dominant relievers. His surgically-repaired arm may not allow that to happen.

Plus, actually signing Soria to be Mo’s successor would be tricky, as it would require the Yankees to sign him to a multi-year deal that would keep him in pinstripes beyond 2013. That’s problematic for both the Yankees and for Soria.

It’s problematic for the Yankees because giving a multi-year deal to a reliever is rarely a good idea, especially not when said reliever is coming off Tommy John surgery.

It’s problematic for Soria, meanwhile, because a multi-year deal for him at this point would likely call for a low base and tons of incentives. He’s better off taking a one-year “prove it” deal and then trying to have a good season so he can test the free-agent waters in 2014 with a significantly higher price tag.

Still, it’s worth it for the Yankees to at least take a shot at calling Soria‘s bluff. They could call him up and say they’re willing to give him a two-year deal loaded with incentives that also has an option for a third year. They could sell it to him by telling him that they want him to learn under Rivera just as much as he does and that Rivera’s job will pass to him in 2014 if he proves he deserves it in 2013.

Other teams will be able to offer Soria a chance to close right away and the kind of one-year deal he may be seeking at the moment, but he won’t find another opportunity like the one the Yankees could offer him. 

If he were to go for it, signing him could end up being an ingenious solution to one of the more notable dilemmas the Yankees will have to deal with in the very near future.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.


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Is Joakim Soria an Option for the New York Yankees If Mariano Rivera Retires?

The New York Yankees have questions at closer this offseason for the first time since Mariano Rivera’s incredible tenure at the position began in 1997.

Rivera is contemplating retirement after tearing his ACL last season, and Rafael Soriano is expected to opt out of the third year of his contract to explore free agency.

Soriano had a stellar season filling in for the future first-ballot Hall of Famer. He saved 42 games and pitched to a 2.26 ERA.

After having issues as the setup man in his first season with the Yankees, Soriano really stepped up his performance when Rivera went down.

Should Soriano opt out, the Yankees will be on the lookout for a new closer.

David Robertson and Mark Montgomery are possible options for the job. Robertson had a tough time in limited appearances in the closer’s role this season, but he has the experience pitching late in games.

Many feel as if Montgomery is the closer of the future in New York, but he’s yet to pitch a single inning in the majors. If we see him at all in the upcoming season, it’ll probably be in a seventh-inning role.

One option that could be attractive to general manager Brian Cashman is Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria.

Soria did not pitch at all last season after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery after injuring himself in a March 18 spring game.

Greg Holland pitched well for the Royals in the ninth-inning role, so Soria could very well be available this offseason.

The Royals are not expected to pick up his $8 million club option for 2013 (via Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star). Instead, they are expected to exercise their $750,000 opt out clause.

Dutton claims that both sides are interested in working out a new deal, but the Yankees could very well jump into the mix and try to pry him away.

Prior to his down season in 2011, Soria thrived in the closer’s role from 2008 to 2010. During that time, he compiled 115 saves and a 1.86 ERA.

Even though he’s now undergone two Tommy John surgeries, he could still be a very useful option late in games.

Should Rivera go through with his retirement and should Soriano actually opt out of his deal, going after Soria may not be such a bad decision. An incentive-laden deal would be fair for the closer. 

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Kansas City Royals: Young Talent Has Future Looking Bright in KC

For the past few decades, the Kansas City Royals have been little more than an afterthought in the world of baseball, but behind names such as Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Aaron Crow and now Alex Gordon things are on the verge of turning around for the once forgotten franchise.

The Royals haven’t enjoyed a great amount of success in recent memory, finishing in last place of the AL Central six of the last seven season. Despite the lack of on-field success however, the team has enjoyed a fair amount of early round picks in the past few MLB drafts.

With these early round picks, the team’s management has chosen some quality players over the years, three of which made their debuts in Aaron Crow, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.

Crow has been everything the Royals could have asked for in a set-up man, posting a 1.43 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 37.2 innings of work in his first major league season. Hosmer was the talk of Kansas City upon his call up back in April of this season, and has been producing quality numbers for the team through the first few months of his career.

Moustakas, or “Moose” as he’s known by his fan base, has been the only struggling member of this group, posting a disappointing .250 average in 44 major league at-bats. To be fair to Moose, not every highly touted prospect lives up to expectations right out of the gate, just ask Anthony Rizzo.

The Royals certainly don’t look as if they’re making a playoff run this season, but don’t count them out over the next few seasons. As Moustakas and Hosmer further develop and current team staples like Billy Butler and Joakim Soria continue playing as they’ve proven they can there’s reason to believe in this Royals team.

The only foreseeable problem in Kansas City’s playoff goals is the starting pitching. Crow and Soria are a nice one-two punch to close out games, but they can only do their job if the Royals are in the lead. This problem could easily be fixed by the longtime trade deadline sellers turning the script and actually try to acquire quality pitching from other clubs.

I’ll start this off by stating this is all clear speculation by me, but if I were in the Royals front office I would target pitchers such as the San Fransisco Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong or Barry Zito or even the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey.

Vogelsong has been extremely impressive this season and the Giants have to chose whether him or Zito is going to fill out this rotation at some point. Either would prove to be great additions for the Royals organization. Pelfrey is what he is, but the Mets need to move contracts and he’s still a pitcher who could easily replace one of the Royals current starters.

As much as the casual MLB fan might not believe this, but the Kansas City Royals are on their way to climbing the ranks in the AL Central and have a strong chance at making a playoff run in the years to come.

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