Replacing the "Dis-qualified": Rafael Soriano
On this Thanksgiving Day, the Yankees are surely counting their blessings for having Rafael Soriano in 2012.
The Bombers could have been in serious trouble when All-World closer Mariano Rivera tore his ACL and ended his season in early May, but Soriano stepped right into the biggest ninth-inning shoes in baseball with aplomb, finishing the season with 42 saves and a 2.26 ERA in 69 appearances – a season so good that he received lower-place votes on a pair of AL MVP ballots.
But with that stellar season in the books, the soon-to-be 33-year-old opted out of the final year of his deal and then refused the Yankees’ qualifying offer to stick around for that year. Soriano is reportedly looking for a multi-year deal in the $15 million per year range, and muddling things even further is the fact that while Brian Cashman has confirmed Mariano Rivera will return in 2013, no one knows how effective he’ll be or how long he’ll stick around.
So, in evaluating candidates to replace Soriano, we’ve chosen to spotlight a quintet of guys who could basically be a short-term setup option but also be that “closer in waiting.” After all, even though the Bombers will have David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, and David Aardsma in 2013 as well, you can never have enough fallback plans – just ask the 2012 Yankees.
Candidate No. 1: Jonathan Broxton
Broxton, 28, wasn’t supposed to be a closer last year, but Joakim Soria’s Tommy John surgery pushed him from set-up man to fireman in KC. He racked up 23 saves for the Royals, then got four more as Aroldis Chapman’s caddy in Cincinnati. Add in his years as the Dodgers’ stopper, and you have a guy who has 111 career saves, an electric fastball, and enough years ahead of him to be able to play second fiddle for a year or two.
Candidate No. 2: Matt Capps
Capps is 29, and already has 138 career saves with the Pirates, Nationals, and Twins – but he recorded just 14 of those last year in Minnesota, as he missed a good chunk of the season with rotator cuff problems. The Twins turned him loose, but Capps has proven he can perform in both the eighth and ninth-inning roles, and if he’s healthy, he could be a valuable swingman option on a short-term deal.
Candidate No. 3: Brett Myers
At 32, Myers is a little older than Broxton and Capps, but he has one other added value: he is just one year removed from being a full-fledged starter. He has 40 career saves in two stints (2007 with Philadelphia, 2012 with Houston) and finished last year as a set-up man with the White Sox, but could also be an option as a middle-to-back-end starter if the team that signs him makes other bullpen moves as well. Chicago declined his $10 million option, so if he could be had on a cost-effective short-term deal, he could be a very valuable piece.
Wild Card Candidates: Joakim Soria and Ryan Madson
Soria and/or Madson are intriguing options because they’re both established closers coming off Tommy John surgery in 2012, so neither is expected to be ready until after opening day. Madson is 32 and has less closing experience, so he could be more of a “high-risk, high-reward” type, but is also likely to be more cost-effective than the 28-year-old Soria, who has 160 career saves with Kansas City. Could a deal similar to the one David Aardsma received last year, perhaps one with a lower 2013 base salary and mutual option for 2014, be enough to get one of them in pinstripes?
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