2013 MLB Free Agents: Teams That Should Be Chasing Rafael Soriano

Stephen FenechCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13:  Rafael Soriano #29 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers during Game One of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 13, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Rafael Soriano is the most talented relief pitcher still available in free agency, which means teams in need of bullpen help should be chasing him. 

When New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera suffered a freak ACL tear while shagging fly balls at the beginning of the 2012 season, Soriano was tasked with taking over the closer role. 

Soriano subbed in admirably, as he appeared in 69 games, posted 42 saves and finished the season with an ERA of 2.26. After his strong performance, Soriano decided to opt-out of the final year of his contract in order to hit the open market. 

Since Rivera decided to return to the Yankees for the 2013 season, the Yankees' need for Soriano vanished.

Here are a few teams that should pursue Soriano to fill their closer spot. 


Boston Red Sox

The first team happens to be the Yankees' most bitter rival, as the Red Sox are in the market for a new closer. 

The Red Sox relied on Alfredo Aceves to close games out last season, and he quickly became one of the team's biggest liabilities. In his 69 apparences, Aceves posted a 2-10 record and a 5.36 ERA. 

The reasons the Red Sox floundered last season are numerous and complicated, but the absence of a big-time closer played a major role. 

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox are currently eyeing ex-Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Joel Hanrahan. 

Hanrahan's contractual demands aren't as expensive as Soriano's, as the ex-Yankee is attempting to hold out for a multi-year offer starting at $10 million per season. 

The Red Sox's front office should not pinch pennies in this situation, as Soriano is familiar with the AL East. Signing Soriano may put the Red Sox over the luxury tax line, which could prevent them from making the move. 


Detroit Tigers

The Tigers won the American League Pennant in 2012 but past success does not guarantee prosperity in the future. 

If the Tigers want to make another deep playoff run, their bullpen has to be improved. 

Jose Valverde, who closed games for Detroit last season, is currently a free agent which means the time is now to cut the ties with the inconsistent closer.

Soriano had a better 2012 season than Valverde and will enter Spring Training with a chip on his shoulder due the lack of interest he has received. 

The Tigers have invested too much money in their roster to look for a discount at closer, as they should be weary of promoting 21-year-old Bruce Rondon to closer.


Philadelphia Philies 

The Phillies' bullpen was nothing special in 2012, as their relievers finished 15th in the league with an ERA of 3.74. 

The Phillies signed the premier closer on the market last year, as they inked Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year $50 million contract. 

Philly is one of the teams that can afford to pay Soriano the contract he is looking for, but the presence of Papelbon might deter GM Runen Amaro from chasing Soriano.  

If Soriano were to sign with the Phillies, he would likely be moved to the eighth inning. Soriano has been the setup man before, as that was his role with the Yankees prior to Rivera's injury last season. 

The Phillies haven't made any huge splashes in free agency yet, which is why they should not be overlooked as a potential landing spot for Soriano. 

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