It is surprising how one minute you're considered a genius and another minute a fool.
Frank Wren has already at the very beginning pulled off two sensational signings. Yet Rafael Soriano's consideration for the offer of arbitration has everyone second-guessing.
"How could Wren sign those aging pitchers?"
"How's he going to get a bat if Soriano ties up $7 million?"
First off, relief pitchers can easily go into their mid to late 40s. This is simply because they only throw 15 to 20 pitches an outing 40 to 90 games a year.
Also remember that Takashi Saito/Billy Wagner have had careers with fewer health problems than Mike Gonzalez/Soriano. Gonzo has recently recovered from Tommy John surgery, and Soriano's injuries seem to be a medical mystery half the time.
Next is the money issue, which seems to have everyone up in arms. Wren stated he would like to keep the salary around $95 million. Soriano's deal would place the team salary at $90 million.
Remember, though, that the Braves base team salary on ticket sales. 2010 is already being hyped as Bobby Cox's swan song. Also, this season will have Wagner's 400th save, Jason Heyward's possible rookie season, and the strong prospect of a playoff appearance. I think ticket sales could help the team easily afford another $10-20 million on the roster.
Soriano could also be used as a deal maker in a trade as well. One of the main reasons teams question signing him is that he costs a draft pick. If he signs arbitration, a team could trade for him without sacrificing a first round draft pick. Plus they could get him with out the long-term contract if they are hesitant to sign him to a long-term deal.
So for the rest of the major leagues, he could be a fairly desirable trade prospect. Imagine what kind of bat the Braves could get with Soriano to sweeten the pot.
Honestly, Wren couldn't lose no matter what happens now. Soriano leaves, you get a first round draft pick. He stays, well, your bullpen is all the stronger. You trade him with Derek Lowe, every GM's ears will perk up.
So for Wren, unlike any other GM this offseason, he has plenty of time and money.
Just as a side note, for a potential trade, this would get any GM interested: Lowe/Jo-Jo Reyes/Soriano for a solid power hitter (and whatever else Wren's magic could pull off). If you look at it, the Braves wouldn't be hurt by it, plus Reyes would have a better shot in another farm league system.