MLB Rumors: 5 Reasons Against New York Yankees Signing Rafael Soriano
NOTE: Rafael Soriano has signed a three-year deal with the Yankees. Of course.
It is only January, but one this is for certain: The New York Yankees have failed in their quest to improve the organization thus far this offseason.
With the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies signing key free agents to long-term deals, the Yankees will have their work cut out for them in the 2011 season.
The most viable free agent left on the market, in terms of the Yankees' most glaring weaknesses, is right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano. Soriano, who had a stellar year in 2010 while closing for the Tampa Bay Rays, could fill the evermore important role as setup man to Mariano Rivera for the Yanks.
However, is Soriano a good fit? Clearly, the Yankees would love to pick up Soriano. But under these circumstances, do the pros outweigh the cons?
According to reports, GM Brian Cashman and company have decided to go in another direction. After mulling over Soriano's demands and possible production, I would have to agree.
Here are five reasons why the New York Yankees are making the wrong decision in signing Rafael Soriano.
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Rafael Soriano is 31 years old, which, even in baseball terms, is not considered old by any means. However, with a history of arm injuries which have kept him out of the majority of three separate seasons, Soriano is unlikely to remain healthy as he ages.
Even if Soriano is able to stay healthy into his mid-30s, most hard-throwing relievers do not keep their velocity. This could be a major problem for Soriano, who relies heavily on his velocity to beat hitters in the zone.
Eventually, the right-hander would need to learn how to pitch and beat hitters mentally, much like Mike Mussina was able to do with the Yankees in his last several years.
With that being said, Soriano would undoubtedly be a key addition for the Yankees in 2011 and 2012, or until Mariano Rivera decides to retire. However, his asking price, both in terms of salary and years, would make him a major liability in the later portion of any contract he may receive.
4. Injury History
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As previously noted, Rafael Soriano has a long list of injuries on his resume. For a high-profile reliever with equally high-profile salary demands, his injury past cannot be overlooked.
In 2004, Soriano had Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament, which caused him to miss most of the 2004 and 2005 seasons. While Soriano came back strong in 2006 and 2007, he was knocked out with a similar injury in 2008, pitching just 14 innings for the Atlanta Braves.
In many cases, it is not a good sign when a pitcher suffers another elbow injury following Tommy John surgery. With the technology available today, many pitchers are able to throw harder and longer than in the past, so long as they are willing to rehabilitate correctly.
Soriano has pitched without severe injury for the past two seasons. However, he also pitched for two solid seasons following his first elbow injury.
While it is unknown whether Soriano will be injured again, it must be atop the list of concerns for the New York Yankees, who certainly do not want another Carl Pavano on their payroll.
3. Salary Demands
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Rafael Soriano's salary demands are through the roof.
In most cases, the New York Yankees would be more than willing to sign a player of Soriano's caliber to a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract.
However, the case of Soriano poses a different dilemma for the Bronx Bombers: He is asking for high-end closer money, while the Yankees still have the best closer in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera.
If this were 2013, and Mariano Rivera were retired, a 31-year-old Soriano would be atop the Yankees list of priorities this offseason. Unfortunately for Soriano, this is 2011, Mariano Rivera still bolsters the back end of the Yankee bullpen, and Soriano is already 31.
If Soriano were willing to take less money and less years to be in pinstripes, the Yanks would be more than willing to place Soriano in front of Mo. But this does not seem to be the case.
It would not be in the Yankees best interest to pay top closer money for a "closer-in-waiting." In the world of baseball, and especially in the world of pitching, a player's ability to remain healthy is always in question.
For the Yankees to pay closer money now for their potential closer in 2013 or later would appear to be too risky.
2. Aura Of New York
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For a player like Rafael Soriano, who has only played in small markets, the aura and mystique of New York and Yankee Stadium must always come into play.
Now, this is nothing to say about Soriano or his personality. For all we know, Soriano may prove to be the next Mariano Rivera, who is able to handle the pressure at any instance, especially when the stakes are the highest.
However, some players simply cannot handle the pressure that comes with playing in the New York. While it is certainly not the deciding factor in the Yankees' decision to sign or pass on Soriano, it is a cliche that will be attached to any potential free agent to sign with the Yankees as long as the Bombers play in the Bronx.
1. Too Early to Sign a Successor to Mariano Rivera
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As stated earlier, Mariano Rivera is signed on to close for the New York Yankees through the 2012 season.
While the Yankees would love to line up a successor to Mo, Rafael Soriano likely comes at too high a price tag for the Yanks right now.
Of course, this is all assuming that Mariano decides to retire after this contract. Rivera, who will be 42 at the completion of his current contract, is known for his work ethic and workout regiment that have enabled him to compete at the highest level for so many years. Who is to say that he will not decide to pitch past 42?
If Soriano were to be the "closer-in-waiting," he would be at least 33 years old before he would be the Yankees' full-time closer. While this is not old, it is certainly not young for someone the Yankees would like to shore up the bullpen for several years.
With his injury history and high contract demands, it would not be in the best interest of the New York Yankees to sign Rafael Soriano.