After a long few months for both Rafael Soriano and the New York Yankees, they were able to come to terms on a three year, 35MM deal. It’s no secret that not many teams will pay big money for closers and the market seemed to be drying out each week for Soriano, as the Rays are nearly tapped out financially, Anaheim signed Scott Downs and has other needs, Baltimore signed Kevin Gregg, and Boston signed Bobby Jenks. The closing opportunities simply weren’t there, so he took a role as a set-up man to Mariano Rivera. This will hurt his fantasy stock but if he decides against exercising one of his two opt-out clauses in his deal, he could be closing for the Yankees in the final year of his contract. I like this signing for them because even though their rotation isn’t quite up to par, they will be able to shorten games with two legitimate relief aces in the 8th and 9th innings, and Pedro Feliciano is one of the most dependable lefties in the game. There should be starting pitching to be had at the trade deadline if they want to go that route as well.
Taking a closer look at Soriano, he was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball the past two seasons and also a fantasy stud. He has not posted an ERA above 3.00 since he started getting consistent work with the Mariners in 2006. His K rate has dipped slightly this past season to 8.23 when he was posting rates above 10 the previous two seasons. An ERA under 2.00 might be very difficult to repeat but looking at his career BABIP numbers, he posted an obscenely low .212 last season which was following up seasons of .297 and .204. Barring a major setback, he should still post an excellent WHIP and tremendous rate stats, but losing the 40+ saves he’s earned last season hurts and bumps a top tier closer lower in the ranks. If your league counts holds then he’s your guy, but if you play in a standard league, his stock took a sizable hit but he can still be an incredibly useful pitcher to balance your ratios.