Should the Cleveland Indians Sign Rafael Soriano?

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Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Why the Indians Should Not Add Soriano

While the last two spots in the Tribe bullpen look rather weak, the first six could still make the pen one of the best units in baseball.  The late emergence of Hagadone could really give the Indians another late inning power arm to match with Allen, Shaw, and Crockett. From the 7th inning on, the Indians look as strong as any bullpen in baseball (save for maybe the Royals). Given how good their bullpen already looks, it may not be wise to spend the limited financial resources the team has on an area of strength.

There’s also the matter of how Soriano struggled late last year.  His second half numbers aren’t pretty:  1.60 WHIP, 6.48 ERA, and 4.05 FIP.  He pitched so bad that he eventually lost his closer’s job to Drew Storen after blowing five of his last 15 save opportunities.  This offseason the Nationals then decided to move on completely and declined his $14M option, making him a free agent.  It is now April and Soriano still remains a free agent, which he is not just because Boras is his agent and he likely is asking for too much money.  He’s now 35 and isn’t the same pitcher he was in his prime.

Is It Even Feasible To Sign Soriano?

Soriano made $11M each of the past two seasons with the Nationals and being represented by Scott Boras likely isn’t going to come all that cheap for 2015. Francisco Rodriguez just got two years and $13M (plus an option) from the Milwaukee Brewers, and one can imagine that Soriano will want something similar. Even if we assume that Soriano would settle for a 1-year deal (which may or may not be accurate), he’s still likely going to command something in the $5-7M range, minimum.  For an Indians ballclub that is already going to open with the largest team payroll in over a decade, that could be a deal-breaker. However, it may not be an impossible fit…

Let’s remember that the Cleveland Indians did sign Gavin Floyd to a $4M deal that also included up to $6M in incentives. Floyd will not be reaching any of those incentives after his unfortunate elbow injury, which begs the question, could the Indians use some or all of that money on a guy like Soriano?

There may not be a definite answer to that question as things stand now.  The Cleveland Indians couldn’t have gone into the spring without some kind of contingency in case Floyd did reach all his incentives. However, just because they put all those incentives into Floyd’s deal, doesn’t mean they would have necessarily ever have let him reach them. Or, even if they had, wouldn’t have made a separate move later in the year to free up money (by trading David Murphy perhaps?).  Perhaps the Cleveland Indians could approach Soriano with a heavily incentive laden deal as well. Maybe offer only $3M guaranteed but up to $4-5M in incentives based on games finish and/or innings?  With Boras as his agent, it’s really hard to say just what one would be able to sign him for…

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