According to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated, the Yankees have agreed to terms with Rafael Soriano on a three-year, $35 million deal.
The deal comes as a big surprise because Yankees GM Brian Cashman has been very adamant that he would not give up the team’s first round draft pick to sign Soriano.
Soriano had a tremendous season in 2010 finishing with a sterling 1.73 ERA and 0.80 WHIP over 64 appearances as the Rays’ closer last season. He led the American League with 45 saves in 48 chances.
Simply put, Soriano is one of the elite closers in the league, but now he will be setting up for Mariano Rivera, the best closer in baseball history. Don’t worry about Soriano having a problem with being a setup man. He has stated on many occasions that the Yankees are the only team in baseball that he would accept anything less than the closers job.
So basically, the Yankees have given a relief pitcher $12 million annually to do something other than close, a baseball first.
Heyman also adds that Soriano can opt out after each of the first two years, so there’s a good chance he can become a free agent again if he doesn’t like the situation.
This is a bold move by the Yankees who have forfeited their first round pick to the Rays, are paying Soriano double what any other reliever makes in the game, and gave Soriano the ability to walk after next season. That is a hefty price, even for a player as great as Soriano.