Well, that was weird.
Yankee GM Brian Cashman came out and specifically stated the Yankees weren’t interested in reliever Raphael Soriano roughly a week ago. To paraphrase Mr. Cashman, they already had a closer and they didn’t want to lose their first round pick in the upcoming draft. Something must have changed over that week because the Yankees just signed Soriano to an odd three year contract with opt-out clauses after the first and second years. This according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Basically, its a one year $11 million deal with player options for $11 million the second year and $13 million the third.
Predictably the deal is meeting with some harsh criticism. Baseball Musings doesn’t like it much. Chris Cwik at Fangraphs isn’t quite the fan either. To be fair, he acknowledges when Soriano has been healthy he’s been a very good relief pitcher, which is true. He’s just not been healthy all that often. In Soriano’s nine year career he’s thrown 60 or more innings four times. Steven Goldman over at The Pinstriped Bible titled his post on the deal, “What the heck are the Yankees doing?“ Fair question. Mr. Goldman does hedge on his dislike for the deal in case it means the Yankees will move Joba Chamberlain back to the rotation. However, Chris Jennings at The LoHud Yankees Blog shoots down that idea. Mr. Jennings spoke with an unidentified source in the Yankees organization who says Joba is staying put in the pen.
Another angle on this deal was brought up by the Biz of Baseball’s Lance Gurewitz who says the actual cost of this deal for the Yankees is really much higher because of the luxury tax and the lost draft pick. He doesn’t calculate the actual cost in his post though so I did. It should be the contract value ($35 million) plus the luxury tax cost (40% of $35 million is $14 million) plus the value of the lost first round draft pick (Victor Wang of the Hardball Times did some seminal research on the matter and estimates it to be about $6 million). Total that all up (35+14+6) and you get $55 million, or $18.3 million per season, which I think you’ll agree, is a lot for a relief pitcher.
The one thing I don’t understand is why Cashman felt the need to be covert. Why come out against Soriano publicly and then a week later sign him? Was any other team offering anything in the neighborhood of $35 million over three years? Bob Klapisch of the Bergin (NJ) Record has a partial answer to all that: it wasn’t Cashman. Klapisch says Cashman didn’t like the deal either but he was overruled. Klapisch doesn’t say who overruled Cashman, but he probably didn’t need to.
One thing about Soriano signing with the Yankees is it means, unless I’m misinterpreting the rules, he can’t sign with the Rangers. So, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Red Sox will now definitely get the Rangers first round draft pick, the 26th overall pick, in this year’s draft. The Red Sox will now have four of the first forty picks in the draft, all four of which are between picks 19 and 40. They’ll pick 19th (for Victor Martinez) and 26th (for Adrian Beltre) in the first round, and they’ll get picks number 36 and 40 in the supplemental round (between the first and second rounds) for losing those same players, respectively. They had pick 24 as well but lost it to Tampa for signing Carl Crawford. Speaking of which, Tampa will now have three first round picks in draft, numbers 24, 31, and 32, plus two supplemental rounders. So I guess don’t expect them to go anywhere any time soon.
Finally, Ian Browne of redsox.com has a piece up about the Red Sox catching situation. Its the first in a series of pieces studying the Sox position by position.