New York Yankees: Rafael Soriano Likely Opting Out, Leaves Hole in Bullpen

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IOctober 20, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 02:  Rafael Soriano #29 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox on October 2, 2012 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

We all knew this news was eventually coming soon.

Now, it'll be a reality within the next few days.

Rafael Soriano, who spent the 2012 season as the New York Yankees fill-in closer in place of Mariano Rivera, will likely opt out of the final year of his contract, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Soriano signed with the Yankees in the winter of 2010 for three years and $35 million and had it built into the contract that he could opt out after each of the first two seasons.

Soriano struggled in his first season with the Yankees in 2011, posting a 4.12 ERA in 42 appearances and lost his setup role to David Robertson.

However in 2012, Soriano reverted back to his All-Star form, filling in for Rivera after he tore his ACL back in May at Kansas City.

Soriano posted a 2.26 ERA in 54 games and saved 42 games for the Yankees in the regular season.

The 32-year-old has three days after the World Series ends to decide if he is opting out of his $14 million option for 2013 to test free agency and attempt to get a multi-year deal on the free-agent market.

With Rivera likely returning for 2013, plus the emergence of Robertson in the setup role, Sherman said it's very unlikely that the Yankees will extend Soriano long-term.

It does, however, leave a big hole in the back of the bullpen because of how dominant Soriano was for the Yankees in 2012.

The Yankees will be hoping for a healthy David Aardsma to return to form and are still waiting to see if Joba Chamberlain reverts back to his 2007-08 reliever form, but those are two big what-ifs.

Plus, how will Rivera hold up after coming off ACL surgery as a 43-year-old?

That's why Soriano opting out hurts the bullpen, but knowing Brian Cashman, he'll find a way to piece it together with inexpensive options.

Before Saturday, Heath Bell's name came up in a few rumors in a potential trade involving Alex Rodriguez and the Miami Marlins, but Bell was just traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, so that likely takes him out of any potential deals.

Soriano leaving, however, takes $14 million off the payroll for 2013, and while I liked Soriano in the bullpen, Cashman can use that money towards two or three relievers in 2013.

If Soriano ends up getting one last multi-year contract in 2013, then his situation worked out perfectly with the Yankees.

Either way, Cashman's job for 2013 just got more interesting.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.