It’s All Set-Up, Yankees Sign Rivera’s Future Replacement. Rafael Soriano
Added by Gregg Snyder on January 14, 2011.
The 8th and 9th innings are once again in good hands at Yankee Stadium. While the starting rotation may still be a question mark, the bullpen is taking shape.
New York has agreed to sign reliever Rafael Soriano to a three year deal worth $35 million. Soriano was the best relief pitcher on the market this offseason. Last year, the 31 year old righty led the American League with 45 saves. He finished the year with a 1.73 ERA and .802 WHIP. Soriano struck out 57 batters in 62 1/3 innings as the closer for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Soriano will set-up for current Yankees closer, legend Mariano Rivera. Rivera enters this year with a new contract. With Trevor Hoffman now retired, Rivera will be chasing the All-Time record for saves. Hoffman has 601 while Rivera enters the year with 559.
New York is likely hoping Soriano has enough success with the team that he can eventually take over the closer role when Rivera does retire.
The signing of Soriano lengthens the Yankees bullpen. The 8th and 9th innings will be locked down. This will allow players like Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson to pitch the 6th and 7th, however manager Joe Girardi decides to use them. It also will help limit Rivera to one inning per appearance, something the Yankees certain welcome.
The only concern with Soriano could be his tendency for fly balls. That is something that could give him trouble while pitching in Yankee Stadium.
The deal is pending a physical while is apparently scheduled for Tuesday.
New York still has $20 million left to spend before reaching their payroll limit for the upcoming season. GM Brian Cashman should be able to use that money on a right handed hitting outfielder as well as a serviceable starting pitcher. Two roster spots the Yankees need to fill.