In a move that seemed unfathomable just six short months ago, New York Yankees’ reliever Rafael Soriano is now likely to opt-out of his contact for the 2013 season by declining a player option that would have paid him $14 million.
Soriano’s agent, Scott Boras, indicated to Joel Sherman of the New York Post that Soriano was likely to test the free agent waters with one year left on his deal. Soriano signed with the Yankees prior to the 2011 campaign in a deal that was widely panned at the time. The three-year, $35 million pact was outrageous considering Soriano was to be used as a set-up man for Mariano Rivera. Of course, when River went down with a knee injury early this season, it was Soriano who eventually settled into the ninth-inning role and did so with dominance.
By declining his option, Soriano would receive a $1.5 million buyout and could then negotiate a multi-year contract, either with the Yankees or another club. Certainly, he would stand to lose money in terms of his 2013 salary, but he may be willing to trade that for the security of a three-year deal.
With Rivera set to return to the Yankees in 2013, Soriano would be facing the specter of another year as a set-up man, which could hurt his market value in 2014. The Yankees are said to be trying to trim payroll, however, so re-signing Soriano is not a given by any stretch. Soriano would be trying to capitalize on his 2012 campaign and his value will probably never be higher than it is this Winter, but he’s still likely to leave a lot of money on the table when it comes time to sign a new deal. There just aren’t many teams willing to spend eight figures figures on a relief pitcher these days. And most of the ones who are willing don’t have the need. It could be a surprising off-season for Soriano and his agent.