Closer Rafael Soriano is the No. 1 free agent left on the market.
And yet, it’s unclear which teams are prepared to give him a contract that meets his salary demands.
Soriano earned a base salary of $7.25 million and picked up another $125,000 in performance bonuses while pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays last year. He led the American League with 45 saves and maintained a 1.73 ERA. He won the Rolaids Relief Award, too. He did all of that while pitching in the majors’ best division.
So, as a free agent, he could reasonably request $10 million per year. He certainly deserves better than setup-man money. But who is going to pay him?
The Los Angeles Angels seem to be a natural fit, despite their light-spending offseason. Fernando Rodney is the Angels’ best internal option at closer, and he blew four saves in September with a 5.65 ERA.
Other than that ...
The Texas Rangers are not pursuing Soriano. And the Baltimore Orioles apparently satisfied their need for a closer by signing Kevin Gregg.
There are conflicting reports about the New York Yankees’ interest in signing Soriano as a setup man to Mariano Rivera.
And while the Chicago White Sox are frequently mentioned as a possible suitor, two major-league sources said this week that the White Sox are unlikely to sign a free-agent reliever for more money than the contract they gave Jesse Crain: three years, $13 million.
Scott Boras is Soriano’s agent. The Great Negotiator of Newport has had an excellent offseason, signing Jayson Werth, Adrian Beltre and Carlos Pena to contracts that surpassed many estimates. But if Soriano signs for huge dollars, Boras will have made his biggest save of the winter.
— Jon Paul Morosi