Joakim Soria a Risk Worth Taking for New York Yankees Bullpen

Phil Watson@FurtherReviewCorrespondent INovember 6, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 07: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the ninth inning during a game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on August 7, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Royals won 4-3. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images’s Andrew Marchand reported Monday that former All-Star closer Joakim Soria would be “elated” to come to the New York Yankees to work as a setup man for Mariano Rivera.

Soria was an All-Star in 2008 and again in 2010 while closing for the Kansas City Royals. He missed all of the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Last month, the Royals declined Soria’s $8 million option for 2013, which made Soria a free agent.

Prior to the injury, Soria was one of the best closers in baseball. He averaged 36 saves a season from 2008-11. He struggled a bit in 2011, but he had hamstring problems. Then ligament damage was found in his elbow during spring training in March.

At age 28, Soria would be a good fit in the Bronx. He’s almost 15 years younger than Rivera, and 2013 could serve as a bridge year as Rivera finishes his career while grooming Soria to take over the closer’s role in 2014.

Soria’s agent, Oscar Suarez, told that New York is the one place Soria is willing to go without having a shot at the closer’s job.

“If the Yankees call, we will be all ears,” Suarez said. “If there is a fit, Joakim would be elated to work with (Rivera). He would close everywhere except there.”

Suarez said he has not heard from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, but he has fielded inquiries from eight other clubs, all contenders, according to Suarez.

Soria had his surgery in April, and Suarez told that, while his client would be ready for spring training, he likely wouldn’t be able to pitch at the major league level until May. Other reports, however, have said June is a more realistic timetable, according to Marchand.

With Rafael Soriano likely on his way out of New York, Soria seems like a good fit to join David Robertson and a healthy Joba Chamberlain to work the seventh and eighth innings to get to Rivera.

During Soria’s three best years in Kansas City (2008-10), he had a 1.005 WHIP and 1.84 ERA in 176 appearances. He saved 115 games for a weak Royals team, striking out 206 batters in just 186 innings.

The New York Post reported Monday that Soria might not be on the market for long. The general managers’ meetings open Wednesday, and Soria isn’t inclined to wait too long to make a decision on his 2013 home.

“Joakim is not a greedy individual,” Suarez said. “He wants to win so if it is (the) right situation he is probably not going to be a guy to wait until February. If he goes back to Kansas City, he loves the people and he will be part of the rebuilding process.”

Rivera has been great for a long, long time, but he is nearly 43 and coming off a major knee injury. The best-case scenario would involve Soria setting up Rivera in 2013 while being the heir apparent to Rivera’s closer job.

At worst, Soria would give the Yankees a fallback guy in case Rivera isn’t able to regain his form.