The Yankees announced this afternoon that rightly reliever Rafael Soriano has decided to opt out of his 14 million dollar player option for 2013. His agent, Scott Boras, told Yankee president Randy Levine that be believes Soriano can get four or more years at upwards of $15 million per year. The Yankees will likely offer Soriano a qualifying contract by Friday for $13.3 million; if Soriano declines (which he should since he just declined $14 million), the Yankees will receive a compensation draft pick after the first round.
I’m honestly not sure whether this was a smart move for Soriano or not. I strongly doubt that he will receive what Scott Boras is suggesting; though, given the Dodgers’ recent 3-year, $22 million contract to Brandon League, I suppose anything is possible. In all likelihood, Soriano will get more years, but less money per year. I envision something like a 3-year, $36 million contract, which would still be much more than he is worth.
Though the Yankees now have a spot to fill in their bullpen, I believe that this is good for them overall. They can better spend that money on an outfielder or starting pitcher, and use David Robertson as closer if Mariano Rivera doesn’t come back. There are many middle relievers readily available as free agents who would provide similar production to Soriano for a lot less money.
Of course, the Yankees still may end up re-signing Soriano. However, given their desire to get the payroll below $189 million by 2014 and Soriano’s desire for a long-term contract, I just don’t see him coming back. It’s too much of a risk for Soriano, because if Rivera comes back to close, Soriano’s free agent value will likely be significantly diminished.
We’ll see in the coming weeks and months what kinds of offers Soriano receives. He probably won’t get $14 million anywhere else, but maybe the extra years will benefit him overall. For the Yankees, there’s now one more hole they have to fill by the start of the 2013 season. If Rivera comes back, then there won’t be much else that they need to do. If not, they will either have to trust Robertson to take over the closer role and fill his place with someone else, or search for a different closer on the free agent market.