In a season wrought with more frustrations than answers, the Yankees have agreed to terms with closer (now setup man) Rafael Soriano, as CBSSports.com's Scott Miller confirms. The deal is thought to be for three years and $35 million according to Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown.
Both the Yankees and Soriano found the free-agent market chilly, so the two have hooked up on a deal that will put Soriano on track to succeed Mariano Rivera as closer when Rivera's two-year deal runs out.
Soriano posted the best ERA of his career for the Rays in 2010 after coming over in a deal with the Braves. His 1.73 ERA and league-leading 45 saves led Tampa Bay to the playoffs and he was supposed to cash in with a lucrative contract over the winter. While he certainly ended up with a lucrative deal, it was far less than he was reported to be seeking, and he'll be receiving the deal as a setup man, not closer. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay receives a third first-round pick and will have nine prior to the start of the second round thanks to compensation picks. They could yet earn one more pick with Grant Balfour still out on the market.
For those wondering why Soriano would commit to three years when the soonest he can close is 2013, the player retains the right to opt out of the deal after the first and second year, as SI.com's Jon Heyman reports. Don't bank on that happening, as Soriano would be hard-pressed to find a deal dishing out roughly $12 million annually, especially without save numbers to bolster his case.
Although GM Brian Cashman declared the club was going to retain its first-round pick, clearly netting Soriano has changed things. The Yankees had ample dollars in their budget, but had nowhere to spend it other than Soriano. So hey, might as well. Plus, the lack of a first-round pick is not a major issue in an environment where New York can just pluck players later in the draft with high bonus demands that slip.
Soriano and Mariano Rivera will combine to earn just over $26 million as the eighth and ninth-inning pitchers of choice.
-- Evan Brunell