Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Derek Jeter has been nursing an ankle injury for about a month now since he twisted it the wrong when while playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Jeter has DH'd the last four games in a row because of it and we have seen the reemergence of Eduardo Nunez so maybe it has been a blessing in disguise. Jeter is a game time decision tonight on whether he will DH again or man his position at short.
Well, if he is smart anyway. Rafael Soriano has been the saving grace to the Yankees bullpen this season after Mariano Rivera went down with an ACL injury in May. He has saved 40 of his 43 save opportunities and has united twitter with his #untuck hash tag that even the official Yankees twitter page is using. As we know Soriano has an opt our clause that could release him from his $14 million contract for 2013 which includes a $1.5 million buy out. The question that I have always asked myself is why would Soriano opt out of this contract? Let's look closer...
Soriano would essentially walk away from $12.5 million dollars after the buy out for 2013 and enter a pretty strong free agency market for closers that includes Jose Valverde, Grant Balfour, Johnathan Broxton, Brandon League, Ryan Madson, Fernando Rodney, Joakim Soria, Mariano Rivera, and JJ Putz to name a few. Not that many teams need closers so the market would obviously drive the prices down much like the market in the 2010 off season when Soriano signed on with the Yankees to be a set up man. Now granted Soriano, statistically, is probably the best closer available behind Fernando Rodney so I am not saying he would have to sign a similar deal I am just judging the market. Teams will not be bidding against themselves and agents will not be using teams like the Yankees to drive up the price as much as in the past.
Let's look at the highest paid closers in Major League Baseball. Mariano Rivera's contract that is set to expire at the end of this year, the highest paid closer in MLB history, is netting him $15 million annually. Brad Lidge not too long ago made $12.5 million annually, K Rod made $12.3 when he signed his mega deal with the Mets, Joe Nathan was once making $11.75 million with the Twins not too long ago, etc etc etc. With the new CBA allowing the Yankees to offer Soriano a "qualifying offer" of around $13-$14 million on a one year deal, that he would obviously decline or the opt out becomes pointless, the team who signs him would have to give the Yankees a first round draft pick in the MLB First Year Players draft. Historically what used to be referred to as Type A Free Agent relievers and closers have seen their market hurt when the draft pick compensation came into effect. This has to hurt Soriano's chances of getting more then $12.5 million annually.
Now if Soriano just wants to close that bad or wants the security of a multi year deal as he edges towards his mid 30's then who can blame him, right? Until you consider how he would presumably have the Yankees over a barrel if he did not opt out and Mariano Rivera came back for 2013 only to retire in 2014. The Yankees may be comfortable with a Robertson/Joba/Insert Flashy Prospect Here/ Free Agent closer by then because a lot can change between now and then so it is a risk that Soriano would have to be willing to take. A risk especially when you consider the Yankees plan to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. The point is though no one is going to give him the money the Yankees will and if he stayed and Mariano retires after next season no one will give him more money then the Yankees will then. So I ask again, why would Soriano opt out?
In 2007 Mike Mussina became the first American League pitcher to win 10+ games in 16 consecutive seasons. Six other players have done this in Major League history including Steve Carlton, Warren Spahn, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton, Cy Young, and Greg Maddux.
In 2010 CC Sabathia reached his first ever 20 win season when he beat the beat the Orioles. He would lead the majors in victories that season.
Chad Jennings over at Lohud had a very good read about the Yankees minor league pitching stand outs from the 2012 season. It is a great read so I will direct you over there but for the lazy I will hit the high points.
Our rotational standouts, including two left handed pitchers which is always a plus, include the likes of Vidal Nuno, Nik Turley, Brett Marshall, Adam Warren, and Jose Ramirez. Our bullpen guys include no brainers like Mark Montgomery, Tommy Kahnle, and guys you may not know a ton about like Pedro Guerra, Juan Cedeno, and Chase Whitley.
Check it out it is a great read and it has been another great season for New York Yankees prospects.
For the first time in what seems like forever we will see Andy Pettitte make a start for the New York Yankees tonight, his first since his broken ankle. This is the type of atmosphere that drew Andy back to the game and out of retirement so I expect a big performance from him tonight. We are in the midst of a playoff battle with the Orioles and big time players come up big in big situations. Welcome back Andy you were sorely missed!