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  1. Don’t decent-but-not-great teams have the most to benefit from roster improvements, as each marginal win for them is more valuable? The 88th-91st wins are, I think, more important to a team than the 93rd+ wins are. If that’s the case it would seem the Nationals, or any elite team, shouldn’t be overspending when they’re already dominant.

    Comment by EricL — January 15, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

  2. “The most to gain” and “Some gain” are not the same thing. From an economic standpoint … call it payroll, or marginal wins, or whatever … Soriano is an overpay. Barring a major injury or meltdown in the Nats bullpen at least. But it’s still SOME gain, even if that gain is only insurance. If you are the Pirates you have to chase the most gain because you don’t have many dollars to use. When you’re the Nats, your payroll ceiling is more or less up to your owner. Overpays are fine so long as you’re not chasing ROI

    Comment by David — January 15, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

  3. Is Soriano better than Henry Rodriguez? Yes

    Did they spend money they should have used elsewhere? Probably not (at least for 2013)

    These moves where good teams “pile on” talent at whatever expense almost can’t be viewed through the lens of a normal FA deal. If you have the money why not spend it? I am sure giving up pick #31 and getting him for the whole season is better than trading closer to MLB prospect(s) for a bloated reliever contract at the deadline.

    Comment by Scott — January 15, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

  4. This signing is an investment of $28 million on 25ish innings of postseason work over the next two years. And if Soriano gives them 25 good innings in the 2013-14 playoffs, the overpay is justified.

    I know this signing was not the rational product of Drew Storen’s meltdown, but that shadow still hangs over the team.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — January 15, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

  5. Actually it was the 29rh pick. Two picks were eliminated due to a couple of other FA signings.

    Comment by Oasis — January 15, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

  6. I like the notion that this puts Tyler Clippard on the trading block. He’s had a pretty good three year run, but was craptastic in the second half … the mileage might be starting to pile up a bit. Still, Clippard + Morse might be able to fetch a pretty decent piece in return.

    Comment by David — January 15, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

  7. From what I gathered the Yankees were willing to add an additional year after 2013, maybe but Boras and Soreno wanted 4 years. Doesn’t really seem a win for them since they did have to settle for two at the same amount. Still two years guaranteed is better than two years maybe.

    Comment by AverageMeansAverageOverTime — January 15, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

  8. Is there any added value in keeping him off the rosters of other teams that the Nats may end up facing in the playoffs?

    Comment by AaronB — January 15, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

  9. Well, sure David, but take a look at paragraph 9 (4th from bottom), sentence 3.

    Comment by EricL — January 15, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

  10. Some faulty logic there as you’re dealing in absolutes and assuming that the Nationals are somehow a lock to win 93+ games. No team is a lock to win that many games. Injury, under-performance and luck all factor into the equation. Adding Soriano could very well be what gives the Nats their 91st win.

    Comment by Jaker — January 15, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

  11. It’s 2 years at the same amount, plus the extra $1.5 million buy out, so even if the Yanks added 1 year at $14 million, Soriano will receive more money (and more in annual salary) than he would have if he stayed with the Yankees.

    Comment by AaronB — January 15, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

  12. The surplus value of Strasburg, Harper, Zimmerman, Span, Gio, Ramos, Desmond and Espinosa means that the likely overpays of Werth, Laroche, Haren and Soriano is fine in that their existence on the payroll is not costing the Nats a chance at acquiring a better player for the money.

    Comment by Tomcat — January 15, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

  13. hmmmm, I guess Boras figured that he could get another two year deal for Soriano when he’s 35. I figured he was turning down 3/30 and people called me crazy…

    I still say Bourn is turning down 5/75, but I’m thinking he may have to accept something similar to that in the end. We shall see.

    Lohse turning down 13mil was laughable. He’s a 3.5/4 ERA guy Nl/AL with durability issues and 2000 ip on the odometer. He’ll maybe get a Guthrie type deal.

    Comment by Bill — January 15, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

  14. I’ve heard people make the argument that relief pitchers are fungible during the year but can be extremely valuable in the playoffs. If you buy into that, then an elite reliever is probably most valuable to the team that is most likely to make the playoffs, which is probably the Nationals.

    Comment by LK — January 15, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

  15. Clippard 2012

    First half–37.1 IP–0HR–.218 BABIP
    2nd half—-35.1 IP–7HR–.305 BABIP

    First half–.148/.234/.203, 10.4 K/9
    2nd half—-.255/.327/.461, 10.4 K/9

    The strikeout and walk rates remained the same, but his BABIP overcorrected and he was much easier to hit.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — January 15, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

  16. Well yes, but unless you can corner the market on all the good baseball players it’s not really a good idea to make decisions based on this.

    Comment by LK — January 15, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

  17. No, I’m disputing a specific premise from the article.

    Specifically this part:

    “Then there’s the matter of the Nationals arguably being the best team in baseball right now. It’s close, and there’s a lot of error-bar overlap, but the Nationals are among baseball’s top World Series contenders in 2013 and, presumably, 2014. They have the most to gain from roster improvements…

    The notion that the best teams in baseball are the ones that have the most to gain from roster improvements (and are therefore the best candidates to “overpay” for them) seems wrong. The teams that should be willing to do such an overpay are the marginal playoff contenders, as each additional win is worth more to their franchise than each additional win is to elite teams.

    This isn’t 2013 Nationals specific.

    Comment by EricL — January 15, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

  18. He would have made $14 million this year under his old contract. The buy out is a plus for this year. But when you’re agent says he can get you 4 years if you op out and you have to settle for 2 that’s not a win in my book. At best it’s a wash. Especial after you deduct agent fees which I think is somewhere around 10%.

    Comment by AverageMeansAverageOverTime — January 15, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

  19. If you assume a team is going to make the playoffs, the top end of its talent is significantly more valuable, because that’s going to be what’s used to go for a WS

    Comment by Careless — January 15, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

  20. I’m not sure if you were trying to imply that luck was a factor but, while it might have been a factor, it’s not likely that it was the factor. 7 hr in the 2nd half probably wasn’t all bad luck.

    Comment by chuckb — January 15, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

  21. Eric, you confused the best ROI with the most to gain. Those upper 80s wins are the best ROI because that is where the biggest impact is on playoff hopes. Washington has higher goals than that, where ROI is a secondary concern. If Soriano is the difference between winning and losing the World Series, the dollar value of his contract is irrelevant.

    Comment by munchtime — January 15, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

  22. Look, baseball has been forever change since the somewhat weird entry of Magic Johnson to baseball. I think we will all agree that what has taken place of the past two years is nothing short of mind boggling. The Yankees have always thrown their weight around, made the playoffs, and stacked their championships on top of one another. Those days are gone. California is a large nation by itself with the highest median income in the country. The Dodgers have built, one could easily argue, the best team in the history of baseball. These days, your not just put together an extremely talented team and letting the wins compile. Their is a new echelon that will separate the great teams from the unreal teams. The Giants will likely be one of the last of a great team holding their own. It took a fake MVP candidate and winning a seemingly endless amount of win or go home games and that was without the reinvented Dodgers and Angels. It took the stars to align for the Nationals to construct an uncanny team without spending 150M. Adding a Grienke to a rotation of Kershaw, Beckett, Ryu, Billingsley, Cuapano, and Harang was just absurd. D.C. has a pretty steep median income also and I think Mr. Lerner said I will see your superstar and raise you one. Will it work? I don’t know. But they have a team that, on paper, matches up with any in baseball and now a guy who will absolutely shut down opposition in October.

    Comment by Justin Whitlock — January 15, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

  23. I doubt that. He has pitched roughly 400 innings at a 3.50 FIP the past two seasons. Guthrie has also pitched roughly 400 innings, but at a pathetic 4.48 and 5.10 FIP. To compare the two is just irrational.

    Loshe’s problem is the draft pick compensation. You will chalk that over if your talking an absolute game changer (i.e. Hamilton). But the fringe guys just do not justify it and thus the reasoning behind the previous system having the “B” classification or giving a 2nd round selection. To have to give up the same pick regardless of whether the player is Hamilton or Loshe is just illogical. I have no idea what will come of him. He may realistically end up with no deal and MLB having to intervene as they did the the relievers that were getting hammered last year. Loshe has been worth 11.3 and 16.1M the last two seasons, I think he deserves something in the 3/35M range but right now that is just not going to happen. You remove the pick attached to him and it happen tomorrow, IMO.

    Comment by Justin Whitlock — January 15, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

  24. Stupid is justifying this.

    Comment by Sam Gonzalez — January 15, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

  25. I don’t agree that it is cool or relevant to down Soriano as a player WE ALL CAN AGREE is a non-elite reliever.

    K/9 career: 9.45

    ERA career 2.78

    40+ save years = 2

    Comment by rubesandbabes — January 15, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

  26. How his ===D taste?

    Comment by Josh — January 15, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

  27. Boras is a genius.

    I had to laugh when I saw all those articles on Boras losing his touch last week on other sites because of all his unsigned clients. His difficult clients tend to sign late, that’s his MO.

    Napoli should give him a call.

    Comment by pft — January 15, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

  28. So, apparently half the salary is deferred until 2018-25 (!?) If that’s true, I’m guessing that means the Nats were willing to go 2/20 (or whatever the present-day value of the deferred money would work out to), and they’re doing Boras a favor by letting him claim to get a $14M AAV.

    Comment by GrassRockFish — January 15, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

  29. It’s roughly $11.8 million AAV with the deferred money and inflation. (Quite a bit less if the U.S. starts minting $3 trillion dollar platinum coins…)

    So what was billed as a 2/28 contract is, in reality a 2/23.5 contract (or perhaps less). Not bad, Rizzo.

    Comment by Esoteric — January 15, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

  30. My understanding is that he got a 1.5 buyout for this year from the Yankees (weird that he gets money for opting out), so he is actually making 15.5 million. The 14 million for 2014 is also now guaranteed, so I have a very hard time understanding how this is a wash for him.

    Comment by TKDC — January 15, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

  31. You’re only thinking of wins in terms of regular season, and making the playoffs. For the best teams, the playoffs are a given — what really matters is how well you do once you get there. Under those circumstances, a closer is just about the most valuable player there is.

    Comment by Jim — January 15, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

  32. With Sorianos injury history what would you rather have, 1 yr at 14 million or 2 years at 11.8 million per year. Also, there is a vesting option so if by some miracle he stays healthy and effective for 2 years, he gets a 3rd year.

    This despite the fact he cost the Nats a draft pick worth 5 million or more

    Comment by pft — January 15, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

  33. This move may make sense if the only lefty in the Nats pen wasn’t Zach Duke…

    Comment by ncb — January 15, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

  34. Right, but I guess I was wondering if this is something that anyone has quantified…?

    Comment by AaronB — January 15, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

  35. Just to note, that’s not how trillion dollar platinum coins work. If the country coins a lot of money and it sits in its account at the Federal Reserve, it doesn’t drive up inflation.

    Comment by matt w — January 15, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

  36. With Sorianos injury history what would you rather have, 1 yr at 14 million or 2 years at 11.8 million per year. Also, there is a vesting option so if by some miracle he stays healthy and effective for 2 years, he gets a 3rd year.

    This despite the fact he cost the Nats a draft pick worth 5 million or more

    The vesting option is a non-issue. It requires Soriano to FINISH 60 games per year (120 over two years), which he hasn’t done once in his career. And if by some miracle he actually manages to reach that milestone, he’ll be worth the option year.

    Also, the valuation of the draft pick at $5,000,000 is more than a little premature. Draft picks are valuable, no doubt, but for a team in win-now mode the 31st pick in a draft that doesn’t even look all that promising is little more than a crapshoot.

    Comment by Esoteric — January 15, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

  37. Interesting allocation of resources; that Washington chose to invest in Soriano while letting both LHPs Tom Gorzelanny (2/$5.7) and Mike Gonzalez (1/$2.25) go.

    Comment by Luke Appling — January 15, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

  38. Classy.

    Comment by Brandon O'Keefe — January 15, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

  39. If Rafael Soriano is worth this contract, what would Craig Kimbrel earn on the open market today? I would feel okay about signing Kimbrel to a contract like this, but he is way more valuable than Soriano in this fictitious scenario. Are we preparing for a future where a guy like Kimbrel earns $60m over 3 years?

    Comment by FrequentBird.com — January 15, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

  40. A few things not mentioned:

    -The Nationals have relatively little payroll commitment for the 2013-2014 seasons compared to other teams who also expect to contend means they have more flexibility in regards to payroll than other teams looking to add value at this point in the offseason. The other side of the coin, 2015 will be the last seasons of arbitration eligibility for the oldest pieces of their young core (Desmons, Zimmerman, et al.). After that the Nats will need the flexibility, and have only one FA commitment into that time (Werth).

    -The two years are functionally paid at $7m each, with the other half of the contract paid over five years starting in 2018. This makes half the contract practically negligible in terms of financial planning. Inflation aside, even on this schedule the Nats will be finished paying Soriano before the Mets have paid off Bobby Bonilla.

    -The value in improving the club by increasing payroll versus moving future talent. The team is performing on the cheap now at least in part because the best pieces of the farm system were moved for young, team-controlled talent in Gio Gonzalez, and another piece this offseason in Denard Span. If the Nats don’t raise payroll to improve the bullpen their farm system will bear further costs, either in trades or premature promotion.

    Comment by LHomonacionale — January 15, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

  41. ZimmermanN is where the surplus value is. Zimmerman just signed a long FA deal last offseason.

    Come on people!

    Comment by James Jones — January 15, 2013 @ 11:58 pm

  42. I agree with Rubesandbabes. Soriano has the third best WHIP of any pitcher in the last 90 years with 500+ innings. He’s dominated hitters in any inning at every stop, regardless of role. He’s a beast.

    Assuming the Nats can control the emotions and injuries to those now demoted, this move can shorten games. Worked well for the ’96 Yankees; it could work just fine for the 2013 Nats.

    Comment by Mike — January 16, 2013 @ 12:35 am

  43. “The Dodgers have built, one could easily argue, the best team in the history of baseball.”

    Uh… no. Also note that the Yankees teams that “stacked their championships on top of one another” did not have the highest payroll in the league.

    Comment by Cliff — January 16, 2013 @ 12:41 am

  44. matt w, you are forgetting expectations (i.e. the only thing that matters for inflation)

    Comment by Cliff — January 16, 2013 @ 12:43 am

  45. It was his choice. He could have accepted a generous $13M contract but didn’t want it. I can certainly understand his rationale, and the system is least fair to those right on the value bubble, but it all comes down to his decision to risk a guaranteed payout.

    Comment by BJsWorld — January 16, 2013 @ 3:10 am

  46. matt w … it absolutely would impact inflation. A green light to coin more capital without any interference from Congress?

    Comment by BJsWorld — January 16, 2013 @ 3:14 am

  47. What is this, xbox live?

    Comment by leoleo — January 16, 2013 @ 9:18 am

  48. Check out Clippard’s, Storen’s, and Stammen’s splits against lefties. Stammen actually has a reverse split.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — January 16, 2013 @ 9:25 am

  49. I hope this is just grade A trolling because the only stacking being done here is one worn out cliche after another.

    Comment by TKDC — January 16, 2013 @ 9:52 am

  50. 2/23.5 is much better than 1/14 (and really it is a choice of 2/26, which includes the 1.5 from the Yankees, over 1/14.5, which was the 1.5 plus the 13 qualifying offer).

    This would almost always be the case for a 33 year old reliever, but is especially so when there is a good chance said reliever would not close the following year. How much could Soriano possibly expect as a 34 year old set up man?

    Comment by TKDC — January 16, 2013 @ 9:56 am

  51. I have from reputable journalistic sources that this worked for the Yankees 10 yrs ago:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/yankees-ensure-2003-pennant-by-signing-every-playe,32/

    Comment by Steven — January 16, 2013 @ 10:41 am

  52. Any thoughts on Davey Johnson’s A/B closer theory? It seems like picking up Soriano positions the Nats to implement that system and it wouldn’t surprise me if that was one of the driving factors in making this move. But does the whole A/B closer thing actually work?

    Comment by El Jocko — January 16, 2013 @ 11:08 am

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