Can I admit something? I love Rafael Soriano. I just can’t help myself. There’s something about him that I just really dig.
Maybe it’s the look he has on the mound. You know, the look of a man who wants to beat his opponents senseless. Or maybe it’s the way he untucked his jersey after every save. Or better yet, the way he’d leave the clubhouse without speaking to reporters when he had a bad night. Okay, so that’s not a great trait to have necessarily but the aftermath of his actions coupled with the overreaction of the writers was always pretty hilarious.
Even in 2011 when he was primarily Mariano Rivera’s set up man and had a relatively disappointing season – 2-3 record with a 4.12 ERA and am inflamed elbow – I still had a soft spot for Soriano. I felt like people were piling on him because of his contract and that they were being unfairly critical of him. Hmm, that sounds familiar? Doesn’t it Yankee fans? But I digress.
I was so happy that Soriano made the most of the chance he got to step in during Rivera’s absence this season and that he helped guide the Yankees to 95 regular season wins. With all that said, I am disappointed that Soriano wants to test the free agent market but also understand why he would.
He’s still relatively young (he turns 33 in December), he’s coming off a 40 save season in which he had a 2.26 ERA with an ERA+ 185 and there are a few teams who could use a closer – the Boston Red Sox come to mind.
According to a report this morning by Joel Sherman, Soriano’s agent Scott Boras said his client would opt out of his contract with the Yankees.
Soriano signed a three-year contract through 2013 in which he controlled options for the final two seasons. He has until three days after the World Series to either accept or reject his option. If he rejects, he contractually receives a $1.5 million buyout. The Yankees would then have until five days after the World Series to make a qualifying offer.
If Soriano does opt out, I also see things from the Yankees’s side of things, if they decide to not make an offer.
With Rivera coming back next season and with guys like David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen, it would be a tad ludicrous to spend over $15 million for a set up man. Not like that has ever stopped Yankees President Randy Levine who was the one who went after and signed Soriano in the first place.
But the Yankees are looking lower payroll by 2014 and with Soriano off the books, it will be easier for them to do that.
So if we’ve seen the last of Rafael Soriano in Pinstripes, I’d like to thank him for the job he did, for his quirky behavior and most of all for the #untuck hashtag many of us used on Twitter. It made Yankee victories that much sweeter.