Oct. 2, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano (29) pitches during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Yankees win 4-3 in 12 innings. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
The Detroit Tigers can’t possibly be content with sending rookie Bruce Rondon out to close games, can they? Scott Boras will certainly schedule a meeting with Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch, show him “the binder” on Rafael Soriano, and walk out with a check.
That seemed to be the sentiment from many of the national baseball writers. We can’t completely fault them for holding onto this belief – there are indications that perhaps the Price Fielder signing came about in a similar fashion – but “team sources” had been adamant that the Tigers weren’t in on the veteran reliever.
Dave Dombrowski has since admitted that the two sides talked at one point this offseason, but it was apparently nothing beyond due diligence. Chris Iott had a quote on MLive yesterday afternoon:
"“We never made him an offer,” Dombrowski said Tuesday afternoon via text message, “and our conversations were exploratory, like any other free agent.”"
So Dombrowski and the Tigers did explore the possibility of adding Soriano to the bullpen, but that’s kind of his job. General managers don’t just explore the players they’re going to sign, they explore pretty much any player that could possibly be a fit.
Soriano would have made the 2013 Tigers better. Possibly a great deal better. But the Tigers very clearly didn’t want to sink Scott Boras-type money – and their first round draft pick – on a relief arm.
Yesterday it was announced that Soriano had signed a two-year, $28 million contract with the Washington Nationals. Also included in the deal is a $14 million vesting option for a third year. If we allow for the fact that the monetary value of the late first round pick the Nationals are losing is something like $4 million, it’s easy to see why the Tigers would have been scared off by the cost of the deal.
Not that the Tigers are scared of spending money – they’ve proven otherwise – but you can’t blame them for shying away from the highly-priced “proven closer” market after witnessing what they’re last one did (or didn’t do) in the postseason (and that would be get outs).