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12/19/1979 (37 y, 2 m, 8 d)
$0.2M / 1 Years (2016)
Soriano will retire after 14 major league seasons, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. (3/17/2016)
Rafael Soriano: The Last Man Standing
August Fagerstrom (FanGraphs)
You Can Still Build a Full and Complete Bullpen
Mike Petriello (FanGraphs)
Contract Crowdsourcing 2014-15: Day 11 of 10
Carson Cistulli (FanGraphs)
The Nationals Bullpen
Brett Talley (RotoGraphs)
Nationals Bullpen: Depth Chart Discussions
Colin Zarzycki (RotoGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
Soriano came back well from his injury-shortened 2008 season. Setting a career high in appearances (77) and innings pitched (75.2), Soriano also eclipsed 100 strikeouts, besting both his previous career-highs in number and frequency and backed up by an uptick in swinging strikes. His velocity showed no signs of lasting damage and ticked back up from last year to average 93.3 mph on his fastball and 83 mph on his slider. His FIP was 2.54, his tRA was 3.05. In short, Rafael Soriano was nothing short of awesome in 2009. In fact, when accounting for leverage, he was worth nearly three wins, high marks for a reliever.
The Year Ahead:
Coming back from injury, Soriano started behind Mike Gonzalez on the Braves depth chart, but ended up taking over the closing duties despite a solid season from Gonzalez. He unexpectedly accepted arbitration with Atlanta, which basically resulted in a sign-and-trade to Tampa Bay, where he is expected to assume the closer’s role from J.P. Howell, who will move back to a set-up role. Regardless of save opportunities, Soriano will provide a lot of value in strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP. Do remember the injury history, though – not just with the Braves but with the Mariners before. It is prudent to adjust him down slightly for the added risk of significant missed time. (Matthew Carruth)
Rafael Soriano is a great pitcher with an intense demeanor. Just ask a Rays or Braves fan what his nickname (MFIKY) means. (We'd tell you but it's NSFW.) That intensity has served him well -- he has averaged over a strikeout per inning over his career. That punch, powered by a 93 mph fastball and a wicked slider, is paired with above-average control (2.69 career BB/9). He's even managed a sub-three FIP the last two years. The problem is, he's on a team with an ironman closer in front of him (Mariano Rivera has only once failed to rack up 60 innings in his most excellent career), so he won't rack up saves. In holds leagues, he's an excellent, if expensive, play. But even then, there's the fact that Soriano has only managed to hit that 60-inning threshold four times in his nine-year career. Don't make the same mistake that the Yankees did -- let someone else overpay for those holds and find yourself a relief ace later in the draft. (Eno Sarris)
The Quick Opinion:
Soriano ended up in about the worst place possible if you own him in a league that depends on saves. Only once in his career has Mariano Rivera failed to get to 60 innings -- predict his demise at your own peril.
Soriano surprised many by signing to be a set-up man in the Bronx, but it was largely figured that he was just the heir-apparent to the legendary Sandman, who appears to be ageless. Nonetheless, the 2011 season was a big step back for Soriano, who missed a huge chunk of the middle of the season, and even when healthy, never was really right. His 3.97 FIP was his worst since 2007, and his strikeout and walk rates were also considerably worse than his typical recent season. Since he has $25 million due to him over the next couple seasons, Soriano obviously didn't opt out of his contract to wade in an exceptionally deep reliever pool, and certainly looks all the wiser. With Mariano Rivera still basically churning out carbon copy seasons in his early-40s, it still remains to seen when or if Soriano will get to close for the Bombers. Either way, he figures to be in the late-inning mix in a very good Yankee bullpen in 2012. (Brandon Warne)
The Quick Opinion:
Soriano should be the first man out of the pen in the unlikely occurrence of a Rivera injury or scuffle, but it's really hard to project that for the Sandman. Soriano will likely get his share of holds, along with David Robertson, in what is shaping up to be a very, very good Yankee bullpen.
Soriano, 33, returned to the ranks of baseball's elite closers last season with some help from Mariano Rivera's knee injury. He threw 67.2 innings of 2.26 ERA (3.32 FIP) ball while going 42-for-46 in save chances with the Yankees. That effort resulted in a multi-year contract with the Nationals this offseason, where he'll take over as closer and push Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard into setup roles. Soriano continues to miss bats (9.18 strikeouts per nine and 24.7 K% in 2012) and post lower than usual batting averages on balls in play (career .249) thanks to his extreme fly ball ways, which will suit him well with the move into Nationals Park and the easier league. As long as he stays healthy -- he does have a history of elbow problems, which popped up as recently as 2011 -- Soriano will produce gobs of fantasy value in all categories that pertain to relievers. (Mike Axisa)
The Quick Opinion:
Mariano Rivera's knee injury allowed Soriano to rejoin the ranks of baseball's elite closers, which he turned into a multi-year contract from the Nationals. He's a high-strikeout, low-ERA right-hander who will be a saves machine in Washington assuming good health.
Soriano racked up 40+ saves for the second straight year, so he's a lock to be drafted as a top five closer just as he was last year. But he showed some concerning signs of decline last year. His strikeout rate fell six percent and his swinging strike rate fell a little more than two percent. Opposing hitters made contact on pitches in the zone at a rate that was six percent higher than his career rate and at a rate higher than any other of his full seasons as a reliever. His velocity was down early in the seasons, and even a late-season recovery gave him his worst full-season fastball velocity of his career. Even if Soriano had repeated his excellent peripherals along with his 40 saves, he'd be someone to avoid if you ascribe to the "don't pay for saves" theory, which you should. But with these red flags, Soriano is an obvious name to stay away from on draft day. (
The Quick Opinion:
Soriano saved 40+ games for the second year in a row, so he'll surely be drafted as a top five closer this year. If you're smart and go cheap on saves, Soriano isn't someone you would have considered to begin with. But when you consider the fact that his peripherals, notably his strikeout rate, dipped dramatically, he becomes a stay-away even for those fantasy owners who like to try to lock up reliable closers.
Though the season didn’t end well for Soriano, he experienced a bit of a rebound in his second year with the Nationals. His strikeout rate jumped back to his normal rate, while his walk rate remained manageable. Luck played a big role in his late season decline. Despite posting the same peripherals, he saw his batting average on balls in play jump from .207 to .358. Soriano will be 35 heading into next season, and he's a free agent, and that’s a reason for concern. He remains unsigned as of publication, but could stumble into some saves depending on which team takes the plunge. He probably won’t post vintage numbers, but he can still help a team in the late innings. (
The Quick Opinion:
Soriano was on his way to a nice comeback season before a miserable second half pushed him out of the closer role. Soriano can still help a club, and could stumble into some saves given his history. Age is starting to become a concern, however.
In hindsight, the home run that Soriano gave up to Ben Revere during a save situation on September 5th, 2014 might have been a sort of coup de grace: he hasn't pitched in a save situation since, and his 35-year-old shoulder started barking in a major way soon after being signed by the Cubs last June. After posting a respectable 18.5% strikeout minus walk rate and 0.97/2.43 ERA/FIP during the first half of 2014 (the last year we have a sample size to draw from), he posted a 12.8% K-BB% and 6.48/4.05 ERA/FIP during the second half, showing a much higher propensity for line drives and hard contact. A long-term velocity decline in place since the beginning of 2013 continued during the small 5.2-inning sample that was his 2015 season, leading us to wonder whether there's simply much left in the tank. Unsigned as of January and now 36 years old, it's hard to see Soriano having much use this year outside of a middle relief/mop-up role; however, given his solid track record of both results and health before his injury-addled 2015, a team most likely will give him a shot at contributing on a major league level in some capacity. (Owen Watson)
The Quick Opinion:
After two successful seasons as the Nationals closer, 2015 proved to be a totally lost season for Soriano. He went unsigned before being picked up by the Cubs in June, missed most of the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury, and was finally released in September. He's a long shot to provide much fantasy value outside of holds leagues, even if he signs with someone that offers opportunity.
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7/20/2015 - Cubs @ Reds
7/22/2015 - Cubs @ Reds Game 2
7/24/2015 - Phillies @ Cubs
7/27/2015 - Rockies @ Cubs
7/28/2015 - Rockies @ Cubs
7/30/2015 - Cubs @ Brewers
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017 3:33 AM ET
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