Friday, January 14, 2011
Rafael Soriano: Pros and Cons
I’ve been having an inner-dialogue with myself regarding the Yankees’ signing of Rafael Soriano last night, and I’m still not sure if I like it or not. So I thought if I wrote the pros and cons I could decide whether to complain or jump for joy.
1) Soriano becomes the second-best pitcher in the Yankee bullpen, and probably makes them better by at least one full win
2) Soriano becomes insurance for the nightmare scenario of Mariano Rivera getting injured or the even worse scenario of him losing effectiveness
3) In signing Soriano rather than trading for Joakim Soria or someone of that ilk, the Yankees were able to hold onto their top prospects
4) If adding Soriano opens up the possibility of moving Joba Chamberlain back to the rotation, that is another potential benefit. However, since the Yankees are dummies I’d bet against it.
1) Soriano is coming off a career year that was buoyed by several things that are not likely to be repeated.
a) His BABIP against in 2010 was .212, compared to .256 in his career. That will almost definitely go up.
b) His HR/FB rate was 4.8% in 2010 compared to 7.8% in his career. That will almost definitely go up.
2) Soriano’s an extreme fly ball pitcher. His career GB% is 31%, league average is around 45%. Fly ball pitcher + DNYS = ?
3) Although the Yankees were able to protect their top prospects, signing Soriano cost them their first pick in June’s 2011 entry draft. A first round pick. A pick that will go to their division rival Tampa Bay Rays. Who already have at least seven additional first and supplemental round picks thanks to losing Carl Crawford, Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, Randy Choate and Brad Hawpe. In one of the deepest drafts in recent memory according to the people who track that sort of thing.
4) Soriano missed significant time due to injury in 2004, 2005 and 2008. While he appears to be healthy now, I’m skeptical he’ll hold up for three years
5) Even accounting for leverage, it’s hard to justify paying $12M/year for a non-Mo relief pitcher (h/t to Mel Hall)
Here are the contract details from The Great Satan’s New York Branch.
Soriano has player options after the first and second years of the deal, according to the source. In the first year, Soriano will receive $10 million and get an additional $1.5 million if he opts out. In the second year, he’ll receive $11 million and an additional $1.5 million if he opts out. He’ll get $14 million in the third year of his contract.
An official said the player options were the Yankees’ idea because they wanted Soriano to be comfortable.
Here are Soriano’s CAIRO projections for 2011.
RA: Runs allowed per nine innings
ERA: Earned runs allowed per nine innings
FIP: Fielding independent pitching
RSAR: Runs saved above a replacement-level pitcher using RA
WAR: Wins above a replacement-level pitcher (RSAR divided by 10)
I still think I dislike more than like this signing. If Soriano pitches well enough to earn his salary in 2011 and/or 2012, there’s a very good chance he opts out. That’s the best case scenario IMO, and would make the signing a win, since you’d get one or two years of great relief pitching and you’d get your draft pick back at some point. The problem with this contract is the downside risk. If Soriano gets hurt or doesn’t pitch well, you are on the hook for an average of $12 million a year for the next three years. Yeah, it’s only money, but for a team that’s going to be paying possibly four declining players (CC Sabathia, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira) around $90 million a year and are probably going to need to set some money aside for their best player (Robinson Cano) before he can elect free agency after 2014 money is no small thing. This team may have to try and compete while paying $90 million for maybe $50 million worth of value and every penny is going to count.
But I suppose we should really only care about 2011 and 2012, since there won’t be a 2013.
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