Source: Rafael Soriano agrees to two-year, $28M deal with Nationals. Deal contains vesting option for third year. Story coming on Y! Sports.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 15, 2013
UPDATE: Thursday, January 17 at 5:00 p.m. ET by Matt Fitzgerald
Major League Baseball's official Twitter page reports that Soriano's contract has been inked. The two-year deal includes an option for a third year in 2015:
OFFICIAL: @nationals, RHP Rafael Soriano agree to 2-year contract with option for 2015.— MLB (@MLB) January 17, 2013
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UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 6:12 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway
ESPN's Jim Bowden has come through with more details on Soriano's deal. Though he'll be paid $28 million by the Nationals, just half of that will come in 2013 and 2014, with the rest being deferred:
Nats deal with Rafael Soriano is $7m in 2013, $7m in 2014 and the other $14m is deferred starting in 2018...the aav of deal is approx $11.8m— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) January 15, 2013
For those National fans who worried about Soriano's hefty price, at least this will assuage those concerns some.
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The increased price for relief pitchers continues to be a source of bewilderment. Soriano's average of $14 million per season is slightly lower than what outfielder B.J. Upton got from the Atlanta Braves.
If Soriano can stay healthy, he will at least almost assuredly give the Nationals good production. But the staying healthy part has been a problem, as he has had issues with durability throughout his career.
In 2011 with the New York Yankees, Soriano pitched just 39.1 innings with a 4.12 ERA due to an elbow injury that kept him out for more than two months.
Dating back to his time in Seattle, Soriano pitched just 10.2 innings between 2004 and 2005 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 2008 with Atlanta, he threw just 14 innings.
As is the case with any relief pitcher, a significant financial investment like the one the Nationals are giving Soriano comes with a good deal of risk.
But when Soriano is healthy, he has proven to be one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He had 45 saves, a 1.73 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 62.1 innings with Tampa Bay in 2010. In his last season with the Yankees, he posted a 2.26 ERA and 42 saves in place of an injured Mariano Rivera.
The Nationals did not rest on their laurels this offseason after winning 98 games last season. They added Denard Span to fill their center field and leadoff void in a trade with Minnesota
Last season, the Nationals finished with the seventh-best bullpen ERA in baseball at 3.23. They also threw the seventh-most innings in baseball with 515.1, though that number should go down in 2013 with Stephen Strasburg not likely to have an innings cap this season.