Rafael Soriano’s Quest For Treasure

Analyzing baseball players through the five-tool prism is no longer accurate. Some players can do it all, but lack one skill crucial to their playing careers: not playing the offseason game well. Rafael Soriano stands as the next possible victim of this skill set deficiency, and for the second time in as many winters.

This year actually marks the first time Soriano has hit the free agency market. Soriano stunned the Atlanta Braves by accepting their arbitration offer instead of testing the open market last offseason – a move that resulted in a sign-and-trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. After a successful season with the Rays, in which Soriano led the American League in saves and posted a career best earned run average, he chose to decline the Rays’ offer of arbitration. At this point, Soriano’s mid-season hiring of Scott Boras looked like a masterstroke on the road to riches.

The early bullpen market shaped up in picture perfect form, too. Soriano’s set-up man, Joaquin Benoit, received three years from the Detroit Tigers despite fewer accomplishments and more injuries. A pair of Minnesota Twins escapees received multiple year deals, too. Even J.J. Putz, freshly removed from a prove-it season, inked a worthwhile deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Soriano, though, remained on the market.

All along, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim appeared to be the frontrunners to sign Soriano. Yet, they added Scott Downs and already have Fernando Rodney under contract along with younger arms like Kevin Jepsen and Jordan Walden. The Texas Rangers seemed like a potential landing place after losing Cliff Lee, but chose instead to sign Adrian Beltre and take a chance with Brandon Webb. Even dark horses, like the Baltimore Orioles – where Soriano would have reunited with former set-up man Mike Gonzalez – and the Boston Red Sox – prior to signing Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks – settled on other end-game options.

Soriano is not the only worthwhile reliever on the outside looking in, as teammates Grant Balfour and Chad Qualls remain, as do Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes. The New York Yankees hold legitimate or non-existent interest in Soriano depending on which source is talking. Otherwise, though, the Soriano market appears thin with no signs of obesity on the way.

A player with the free agent skill, so to speak, knows when to grab the pen and sign the necessary paperwork. Agents should assist – if not override – a player’s ability to read the market. Geoff Blum, for instance, appears to be not so skilled on the field, but skilled off the field – if only because his performance is enhanced by a cunning agent. In most cases, Boras appears to be the best agent in the game. In this particular case, though, one has to wonder if Boras overplayed his hand by waiting.

Of course, Boras may separate himself from other agents and pull a three-year deal worth $30 million out of his back pocket within the next few weeks. If nothing else, Soriano may have to take another one-year deal, therefore setting himself up for one more crack at a pot of gold. After all, the third time is the charm.

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38 Responses to “Rafael Soriano’s Quest For Treasure”

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  1. camisadelgolf says:

    I could be an asshole and point out a typo, but I won’t tell you about the part where you wrote, “Soriano is not the only worthwhile reliever on the outside looking in, as teammates Grant Balfour and Grant Balfour remain . . . ”

    And if that isn’t a typo, I think you have the topic for your next story.

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  2. Turbot says:

    Rich Lederer of Baseball Analysts is a fat fucking scumbag.

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    • Patrick says:

      What? What is wrong with you? This isn’t even his SITE. Why on earth do you DO this? No one else cares.

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    • Barry Hersh says:

      Your choice of words just shows your true lack of knowledge of the English language. Are you using these words to be coloful? It’s not working! What is showing is your ignorance not only of the english language but of baseballl Next i=time try harder.

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  3. Chad says:

    Rafael Soriano’s 2011: Quest for teh Goldz

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  4. Jargal says:

    Patrick you’ve made two comments, and criticized two different people – shut the fuck up.

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  5. Jargal says:

    Actually, no I’m not DL80. I didn’t criticize two different people for no reason – I criticized the one guy who is trying to make it like he’s the site’s policeman.

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    • Horace says:

      Actually Patrick rightfully responded to the guy who for no reason called Rich Lederer a “fat fucking scumbag”. If you think that is criticizing for no reason there is something seriously wrong with you.

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  6. Heather says:

    How is it Soriano’s fault that he isn’t playing the offseason game well? Isn’t that his agent’s job?

    It’s not like he’s making outrageous demands, like refusing to settle for anything less than a 3/$60 contract or something. He wants a multiyear deal for a good annual salary, but his demands aren’t out of line with his numbers last year or the market for bullpen help this year.

    What puzzles me even further is that you start out your column indicating that Soriano does not have the offseason “skill” and implicitly blaming him for his lack of offers thus far; however, you conclude in the end that Boras might be at fault for misjudging the market. So…whose fault is it? Soriano’s or Boras’s? Or both? You never come out and say directly, just imply different things at different places in the column.

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  7. Chad says:

    Because Boras gets the goldz

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  8. Pat says:

    Tampa should re-sign him on a one year deal and next year closer jobs should open up. I think Papelbon, Rodney, and Lidge will all be leaving their teams, and Ryan Franklin as well. That’s four teams who’d be willing to spend money on a big time closer, as long as he has another good season.

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    • Sean says:

      Not sure about that. The Angels have Walden and Jepsen who could move into the role, the Sox have Bard and Jenks, and the Phillies seem an unlikely team to throw a lot of money at a closer given how high their payroll already is. As for the Cardinals…I think we all know what free agent they’ll be focusing on.

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  9. Kampfer says:

    There are quite a few teams out there that need upgrades to overcome some intra-division foes. There is not much left out in the market, so Soriano may still have a 3/30 contract out there waiting for him.

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  10. PL says:

    The A’s have money leftover from Iwa-fail-kuma, if he’s serious about not caring about his role, he’d be an unreal setup man for Bailey and make the A’s pen untouchable.

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    • Danmay says:

      Well PL, I’m hoping you can agree with me when I say that 3/35 is too much for the A’s to pay.

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  11. Travis L says:

    Feature request guys — maybe there’s already a WP plugin for it.

    Can we get a button that says “ignore this guy forever”? I would really like to banish about half the commenters I see on FG from ever appearing for me. It’s only getting worse as you get more reach, and ESPN sends more single digit IQ “people” over.

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  12. Hank says:

    What source has said the Yankees have interest?

    The only thing I have seen is Boras stating that he would accept a setup role for the Yankees…. people seem to be re-interpreting that as the Yankees have interest or even interpreting that to mean Boras was saying the Yankees have interest (which is not what he was saying).

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  13. I think he will still get good money, but the real question will be whether or not he will close or not.

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  14. greg oldham says:

    This is why i dont understand why the red sox dont sign him. dont understand the jenks deal unless drive up the cost for yankees. so what if bard ends up being the closer after paps leaves. the duo of soriano and bard is awesome. who cares who makes what? winning those close games matters if you make it or not. remember the nasty boys of the 90 reds? lead after 6 and its over.

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  15. Omar Minaya says:

    Adam Rubin is a piece of shit.He just had his media friends make it look like he was right. Adam Rubin doesn’t deserve a job in baseball.

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  16. Joltin' Joe says:

    Well it looks like he just got 3 years and $35 million from the Yankees. As a NYY fan I do not like this…

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  17. Danmay says:

    Scott Boras wins again, why do we ever doubt him.

    Soriano 3/35
    Beltre 6/96
    Werth 7/126

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  18. KRAM says:

    Yankees for three years. Notice how it bumps to 14 mill for year 3 when Rivera should be retired. Makes that pen pretty unstoppable, on paper.

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  19. Barry Hersh says:

    I cannot visualize a world of people with such a limited vocabularly that all they can due is curse. I would hate to see something really wrong and see the kind of response that would draw.

    You can speak without using profanity can’t you? If not then follow an old indian trueism. It’s better to say nothing and thought to be stupid than to open one’s mouth and prove that you are.

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  20. CircleChange11 says:

    Just to know what it feels like to be in the NYY’s position, one of these days I’m going to load up my wallet with “Monopoly Money” and go shopping at Best Buy.

    Among other things, I’m getting a 62-inch flatscreen for the shower.


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