It looks like the New York Yankees are gonna go to Mo once again. Mariano Rivera, the future Hall of Fame closer who spent most of this past baseball season on the DL after tearing his ACL, is not yet ready to call it a career. The 42-year-old wants to come back for another year.
Of course, the Yankees still have to hash out a deal with Mo. And given he’s not getting any younger (he’ll be 43 by the time the 2013 season starts) and is coming off a pretty significant injury, it’s valid to be a little concerned about how effective he’ll be. So, it wouldn’t hurt for the Yankees to get themselves a set-up man who also has the capability to close out games.
They’re certainly not going to be bringing back Rafael Soriano. Soriano was great in the closer role during Rivera’s absence, converting 42 saves, but he opted out of the final year of his $35 million contract with the Yankees. The Yankees made him a qualifying offer, but that was mainly to get a draft pick if he signs with another team.
You can bet that he and agent Scott Boras are going for the big bucks. As crucial as he was for the Yankees over the past two seasons, and as much as I loved seeing #untuck all over my Twitter feed after a successful save, that money is better spent elsewhere. Soriano’s going to want to close and, after doing it in New York, he’s going to want way too much money and too many years. Throwing a lot of cash at closers not named Rivera generally doesn’t lead to a happy ending.
The Yankees already have some good and not overly expensive arms in their bullpen, most notably David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain. Robertson in particular has been outstanding as a set-up man, but was disappointing when he initially was given the closer role in Rivera’s absence. And poor Joba just needs to wrap himself up in bubble wrap to avoid any more injuries and have the opportunity to pitch for a full season.
One option worth exploring to add some depth to the bullpen is the Royals’ Joakim Soria. Soria is coming off Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, so he’d be a cheap, high-upside arm. He’s saved 160 games for Kansas City, averaging about 36 saves a season over the past four years. Plus, he is only 28 years old. Most importantly, his agent, Oscar Suarez, said “he’d be all ears” if the Yankees want to talk.
Soria wants to close, but said through Suarez that if the Yankees come calling, he’d be happy to set up for his idol Rivera. Who doesn’t want to learn how to throw the magic Mo cutter, after all?
Eight other teams have reportedly already expressed interest in Soria. The Yankees may be waiting for Soriano to officially turn down their offer (he has until Friday). But, hey, it doesn’t hurt to talk.
It’s a smart move for both sides. The Yankees get more insurance for the bullpen and potentially groom another heir apparent for Rivera. Soria gets a chance to play for a big market team with his idol and prove his worth under the bright lights of the big city.