Tag:Rafael Soriano
Posted on: January 10, 2011 10:04 am
 

Rangers may not be done yet

Jon Daniels Coming off a World Series appearance, the Rangers have been anything but content this offseason. Few teams have been as active in the free agent market as Texas.

General manager Jon Daniels has reached high -- Cliff Lee -- and missed, but also reacted by signing the likes of Adrian Beltre and Yorvit Torrealba along with reliever Arthur Rhodes and took a risk on former Cy Young Award-winner Brandon Webb. The team was also in on trades for Zack Greinke and Matt Garza.

Under new ownership, the Rangers have been aggressive and shown they aren't content with what they've done. That hasn't stopped even after an offseason spending spree.

"There are still some things we're going to look into," Daniels told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram . "This may be the club we go to camp with. We're confident if it is.

"But there's a chance we'll try to improve as well."

Wilson notes the team could still be interested in other "risk-reward types" such as Jeff Francis and Bartolo Colon.

There's also the off chance the team could go after the top remaining free agent, Rafael Soriano, and move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. It may be a long-shot, but with the Rangers, it seems anything's possible.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: January 4, 2011 6:31 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 6:31 pm
 

Yankees options: Soriano, Jones

Rafael Soriano
It's almost strange how little we've heard from the Yankees this winter. While those around them have lost their minds with some of these contracts, they have been the model of thrift. There are two big-money free agents left on the market. Carl Pavano isn't coming to the Bronx, for obvious reasons. But Rafael Soriano might be.

Jon Heyman of SI.com says he's hearing that now that it looks more and more like Andy Pettitte is going to retire, the Yankees are looking at couching their uncertain back-end rotation by essentially making the games shorter with a "lockdown bullpen." A few weeks ago it sounded like they were only toying with the idea, but now they might be getting serious. The idea would be for Soriano, who converted 45 of 48 save opportunities with the Rays last season, act as Mariano Rivera's setup guy and heir apparent. With both of those guys in top form and some good sixth- and seventh-inning options as well, the Yankees would basically just need five decent innings from their starters.

Soriano isn't going to come cheap -- he's thought to be after four years at more than $10 million per. With him being on the market this long and so many teams having filled their bullpen needs, there has been some thought that maybe the market for Soriano would soften. Then again, we thought that about Adrian Beltre, and look what he's getting. (What is this svengali thing Scott Boras has with these teams?)

Also from Heyman, the Yankees could be looking at Andruw Jones as a fourth outfielder. It could be a good fit, as Jones can play anywhere in the outfield and the Yankees could use a right-handed bat off the bench. Jones isn't the player he once was, but he still has some pop (he had an OPS+ of 119 for the White Sox last year despite hitting .230).

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: December 30, 2010 11:39 am
 

Kimbrel could close for Braves in 2011

Craig Kimbrel The Braves will be looking internally for a closer to replace the retired Billy Wagner and 22-year old Craig Kimbrel tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he's ready to compete for the gig.

"There was never really a point last year where I didn't think I could do it," Kimbrel told the AJC 's Carroll Rogers. "I can't go on the mound and think 'I can't do it,' because then I'll be in a losing situation."

Kimbrel allowed just one earned run in 20 2/3 innings last season, striking out 40 batters and walking 16. He appeared in four postseason games, and allowed one hit and one earned run in 4 1/3 innings, while striking out seven. He pitches in the high-90s and has a nasty slider.

Braves manager Bobby Cox called him out to close Game 3 -- I was sitting in a press box dining room with a Braves scout who said he thought Kimbrel was the guy to close for the Braves in the future -- but the veteran manager didn't quite show that confidence in the rookie, who ultimately was charged with the loss.

WIth a 2-1 lead in the ninth, Kimbrel got Cody Ross to pop up to second baseman Brooks Conrad before pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa worked a walk. Kimbrel then struck out Andres Torres before Freddy Sanchez's grounder up the middle. WIth two on, Cox took out Kimbrel, bringing in lefty Michael Dunn to face Aubrey Huff, who singled in a run. Peter Moylan then came in to replace Dunn and Buster Posey hit it between the legs of Conrad, scoring Sanchez, for the second run charged to Kimbrel in the inning (unearned) and gave the Giants the lead.

Kimbrel says he's ready to compete in spring training and will be happy no matter his role -- just so he's in the big leagues.

"I'm looking at it like it doesn't matter what role I have, if I'm in the big leagues, I'm happy," Kimbrel said. "But if I just go out there and focus more on pitching well, good things will happen."

Left-hander Jonny Venters could also close. Venters was 4-4 with a save and a 1.95 ERA in 83 innings. He struck out 93 and walked 39, finishing eighth in Rookie of the Year voting. Like Kimbrel, he pitched in all four of the team's NLDS games, allowing seven hits but no runs in 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking none.

The Braves signed Scott Linebrink, who has seven saves in his 11 seasons in the big leagues, but has been a set-up man in the past and isn't coming off his best season in 2010, where he was 3-2 with a  4.40 ERA for the White Sox. Veteran lefty George Sherrill had 52 saves in 2008 and 2009, mostly as the closer for the Orioles, but is also coming off a bad year, with a 6.69 ERA in 36 1/3 innings for the Dodgers. He posted his worst strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.04) of his career, walking 24 batters and striking out 25.

There is, of course, still Rafael Soriano out there. The Braves' 2009 closer is coming off a season with 45 saves for the Tampa Bay Rays, but is likely out of Atlanta's budget. A cheaper free-agent option could be former Blue Jays closer Kevin Gregg.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb   on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 16, 2010 4:24 pm
 

Yankees 'exploring' Soriano option?

Rafael Soriano Today's edition of "Yankees/Red Sox punch-counterpunch" features the back end of the bullpen. The Red Sox have apparently gone and gotten themselves a second closer, and a New York Daily News report says the Yankees are considering doing the same thing.

A source tells the paper the Yankees are having "very, very preliminary" discussions about bringing Rafael Soriano aboard as the world's most expensive setup man and heir apparent to Mariano Rivera. The top name in what has turned out to be an extremely lucrative market for relievers, Soriano and agent Scott Boras are thought to be asking for four years and huge money -- undoubtedly more than $10 million a year. That's a lot of cabbage to pitch the eighth inning.

"They don’t know where Boras is going to take this,” the source told the Daily News. "They’re not going to go crazy."

"Crazy" is probably what it's going to take to sign Soriano, 31, who converted 45 of 48 save opportunities for the Rays last season while posting a 1.73 ERA.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 15, 2010 9:32 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 9:40 pm
 

Top 10 free agents remaining

Okay, so all the big names are off the board now, and quite a few solid names are gone as well.

Now teams are left to fight over the scraps, and how clubs go about filling their holes with the remaining names can have major implications on a season. There will be teams who are done spending and shopping for bargain-bin pickups, teams who have been jilted and can spread money around and more.

No more Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth or Victor Martinez may not be exciting, but there's still plenty more machinations ahead. The trade market may also start heating up now that teams can more clearly identify their holes or surplus players.

So who are the top 10 free agents left?

Gregg 10. Kevin Gregg

Gregg closed for Toronto in 2010 and surprisingly held his own in the AL East after years of being a miscast closer and flaming out of Chicago. He's still not a great option, but as someone willing to ink for just two years, Gregg's market may open up what with the crazy three-year pacts being handed out.

How about: The Orioles seem to be the top (only?) suitor for Gregg, so let's take the safe route here and tab Gregg to the O's. This would push Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara to setup roles, and give the O's what suddenly looks like an intriguing top three in the bullpen that could do wonders for the young rotation's confidence in nailing down wins.

Fuentes 9. Brian Fuentes

Fuentes is another mediocre closer but as a left-hander with strikeout stuff, is in plenty of demand as both a setup man and closer. Fuentes is looking to max out the years on his contract but has a top team in the Red Sox chasing him, plus plenty of other clubs with the financial wherewithal to import Fuentes.

How about: The Yankees. New York has money to toss around and a need for a left-handed reliever. Fuentes ranks above Pedro Feliciano in the remaining market for lefties and Fuentes may be willing to pitch just in front of Mariano Rivera. He's likely too pricey for Colorado.

Hall 8. Bill Hall

Hall revitalized his career in Boston as a super-utilityman and rediscovered the pop he left behind mid-decade in Milwaukee. Another good season would really open up his career prospects. He's been closely linked to the Dodgers, but there's no shortage of teams that would want him as a backup. The club that can offer him the most playing time is likely the team that snags him.

How about: The Dodgers. L.A. has made a habit of collecting average players and hoping quantity beats out quality. Problem: they still haven't solved their left-field conundrum. Hall makes a lot of sense here as he can back up at multiple positions and serve as insurance in case they need to move him out from left field.

Thome 7. Jim Thome

Thome is 40 years old and still bashing home runs, cranking 25 in 340 plate appearances for the Twins. However, he looks to be squeezed out by the impending return of Justin Morneau and emergence of Delmon Young. As someone who will come on a one-year deal and a cheap base salary, any team with a hole at DH has to be interested.

How about: The Rays. The market for DHs is small, but Tampa Bay are one such team that could use Thome's thump and have a DH spot -- and no potential for losing the spot -- waiting for him. In addition, Thome could benefit from the short porch in Yankee Stadium and the moving in of the right-field fence in Boston.

Jenks 6. Bobby Jenks

Jenks has often had a tumultuous career in Chicago as Ozzie Guillen hs never been a fan. However, Jenks was actually better than Rafael Soriano in 2010. Jenks's xFIP was 2.62, while Soriano checked in at 2.81. Over the next three years, Soriano is certainly the better property, but the point is that Jenks has actually been a better pitcher these last few years than given credit for.

How about: The Rays. Yes, Tampa Bay is slashing payroll, but they still have some room to spend dollars. They have an empty bullpen, putting them in position to pick and choose from any remaining reliever out there and handing them the closer's job. Jenks, however, is the only one who would likely accept a one-year deal to rebuild his value before hitting free agency again after the year. Tampa won't complain about that. (The Jays were the original pick here, but a Hardball Talk report that has Jenks and Tampa Bay close to an agreement changed that.)

Lee 5. Derrek Lee

Lee started the year hobbled by a thumb injury, and Aramis Ramirez's own struggles compounded the issue for the Cubs. Lee bounced back in the second half and showed he wasn't cooked with the Braves. However, his stock is down enough that a one-year deal could work in his best interest -- and teams would be only too happy to oblige.

How about: The Padres. Lee is a Northern California boy, and is the best first baseman remaining on the market. The Orioles seem focused on Adam LaRoche, and the Nats are talking to LaRoche as well, but Lee should provide the bigger bang for the buck in 2011. The Padres desperately need a first baseman and could make the case to Lee that they are better positioned to win in 2011 than either the Nats or O's.

Ordonez 4. Magglio Ordonez

Looking past how much Ordonez was overpaid the last few seasons, you see an outfielder still capable of hitting with the stick. His agent, Scott Boras, is currently being unreasonable in salary demands but since when is that news? Of the outfielders left on the market, Mags is the best bet of all to produce in 2011.

How about: The Tigers. Detroit still needs a bat, and that outfield as comprised (Ryan Raburn-Austin Jackson-Brennan Boesch) does not look pretty. There's motivation on both sides to get a deal done.

Pavano 3. Carl Pavano

Pavano is a quality starter, there's no doubt about that. He can soak up innings and function as a solid No. 3 in any rotation, but he seems to be benefiting from a positive groundswell of support as there's not much differentiating him from Joe Blanton. He's understandably trying to capitalize on a market run amok, but Pavano's injury history and advanced age is working against him here.

How about: The Twins. Minnesota wants Pavano back and Pavano wants back in the Twin Cities. It's possible that Pavano, seeking a three-year, $30 million contract, could leave money on the table to do so.

Soriano 2. Rafael Soriano

Soriano is a lights out reliever but seems to be suffering from a curious lack of interest. Yes, his pedigree as a closer is one reason for that as teams are balking at four years and a high salary. One might think teams are learning their lesson when it comes to overpaying for relievers, but unfortunately it appears that teams are only getting smarter when it comes to paying closers, not relievers as evidenced by the ridiculous three-year deals handed out to relievers. But riddle me this: if someone like Matt Guerrier can get three years, how can Soriano not demand four?

How about: The Rangers. Texas is scrambling to find a pitcher to replace Cliff Lee. Pavano's a possibility, but how well can he play in that park? It may be better to go for the quality arm in Soriano and convert Neftali Feliz to a starter.

Beltre 1. Adrian Beltre

The best player left on the market, Beltre can pick it with the best of them and enjoyed a strong season at the plate. There's enough question marks about Beltre's offense that he's going to have to move significantly off his salary demands unless he phones Oakland and asks for the five-year, $65 million deal to be put back on the table.

How about: The Angels. It makes too much sense for the Angels to sign Beltre. They have a gaping hole at third and missed out on Crawford. Beltre, meanwhile, has seen his suitors dwindle as the market hasn't broke in his favor. This is a match for both sides that is too obvious. Then again, the Crawford-Angels match was obvious as well. As long as Los Angeles continues to negotiate as if there are no other teams involved, they will continue to miss out. The Halos could stand to be more aggressive.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 7, 2010 3:04 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 3:47 pm
 

Rays need to rebuild bullpen

Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena are gone, but those aren't the Rays' biggest losses, manager Joe Maddon said at Tuesday's media session at the MLB Winter Meetings.

"If we can get a bullpen back together, that can put us back into the 90-win category," Maddon said.

The Rays are slated to lose not only closer Rafael Soriano, but already lost Joaquin Benoit to the Tigers. Dan Wheeler is a free agent, as are Grant Balfour, Randy Choate and Chad Qualls, who all three turned down arbitration. The team also non-tendered Lance Cormier.

That leaves the Rays in need of a near-total bullpen restoration. Andy Sonnanstine is the lone carry-over from last season's bullpen.

"I don't think it's nearly impossible," Maddon said of rebuilding the bullpen, "but it's going to be challenging."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed
Posted on: November 30, 2010 11:55 pm
 

Francisco, Frasor accept arbitration

Jason Frasor The Rangers' Frank Francisco and the Blue Jays' Jason Frasor have accepted salary arbitration, the Major League Baseball Players Association announced Tuesday night. They were the only two of 27 arbitration-eligible free agents to accept.

Francisco and Frasor are both middle relievers and may have found themselves hamstrung by being Type A free agents and costing a draft pick to sign.

Turning down arbitration were Kevin Gregg, Octavio Dotel, Trevor Hoffman, Kevin Correia, Pedro Feliciano, Aaron Heilman, Brad Hawpe, Felipe Lopez, Scott Downs, Randy Choate, Grant Balfour, J.J. Putz, Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Carl Pavano, Adrian Beltre, Chad Qualls, Cliff Lee, Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn, Jesse Crain, Orlando Hudson, Paul Konerko, Miguel Olivo and Adam LaRoche.

Those 25 players could still re-sign with their previous teams.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 8:15 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2010 8:18 pm
 

Francisco expected to accept arbitration

Frank Francisco Rangers reliever Frank Francisco is likely to accept arbitration, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports .

Francisco is a Type A free agent, which could be hurting his value on the free-agent market. If a team signed him, he'd cost them a draft pick, something few teams are willing to do for a middle-reliever.

However, if Francisco does accept arbitration and a one-year, non-guaranteed contract, he could return to a different Rangers bullpen. There's been speculation that Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz could be moved to the rotation if the team loses out on Cliff Lee. If that happens, Francisco -- who had 25 saves in 2009 -- could be moved back into the closer's role. Feliz replaced Francisco as the team's closer early in the 2010 season. If he did take over as the team's closer, that would increase his value on the open market for the 2012 season.

At least, that seems to be the gamble Francisco is taking -- if you call getting a near-certain raise any type of gamble. Last season, Francisco made $3.265 million. Francisco appeared in 56 games last season, going 6-4 with 2 saves and a 3.76 ERA, striking out 60 batters while walking 18 in 52 2/3 innings.

If the Rangers miss out on Lee, they could take all that money they had set aside for him and go after closer Rafael Soriano.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com