Washington NationalsDownload App

Grading the Rafael Soriano Contract for the Washington Nationals

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
Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIJanuary 15, 2017

The Washington Nationals and free-agent closer Rafael Soriano have agreed to a two-year, $28 million contract with a vesting option for a third year. The option vests if Soriano finishes at least 120 games over the first two seasons.

Jeff Passan had it first:

 

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

 

The Nationals bullpen seemed to be set prior to the move—aside from lacking a left-handed specialist—with Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen both capable closers.

Owner Ted Lerner, however, felt otherwise. He was very much involved in luring Soriano to Washington and was willing to offer the money agent Scott Boras wanted.

While it seems to be overkill at first glance, this move is an absolutely stellar one for the Nationals.

For starters, they have just acquired an All-Star-level closer who can bring them one step closer to success in the postseason. It's doubtful that this move was inspired by Storen's downfall in last season's NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, but the signing shores up any qualms about that role moving forward.

With Soriano in the fold, general manager Mike Rizzo can get creative with the rest of the team.

He can choose to leave Clippard, Storen and Soriano (ClipStoSo?) together at the back end of the bullpen, forming one of the most formidable trios in the league. Teams would then have to beat guys like Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann over six innings—something that shouldn't be too easy to accomplish.

Or, Rizzo can package either Clippard or Storen with outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse to stock up an already deep farm system. Morse is without a starting spot given the re-signing of Adam LaRoche and the acquisition of center fielder Denard Span.

There's also one other option, and one that's purely speculation on my part. If Rizzo really wanted to get creative, he could package Morse, Clippard/Storen, top prospect Anthony Rendon and another minor league arm to acquire yet another front-line starter.

The Tampa Bay Rays were rumored to have interest in Morse, so maybe a deal for left-hander David Price could be agreed upon.

Again, that's purely speculation.

Regardless of what Rizzo chooses to do, the signing of Soriano was a fantastic move by the upper-management of the Nationals.

He provides the team with a stable presence in the ninth inning, as well as several options for Rizzo to consider in order to improve his team even further.

Lerner deserves a ton of credit for essentially orchestrating this deal.

Grade: A 

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices