Ahhh Joakim, how you have been the source of many baseball fan boners across America. Your time with the Royals was nothing short of fantastically increderiffic. Four years of prime-time excellence, two years with sub 2 ERA's, two more below 3. 60+ innings of pure talent a season, a two time All-Star and easily one of the best reliever's in the game. Then 2011 went and happened. You rose to the top only to come crashing down so hard, your ERA rose to 4.03 and you only recorded barely over half as many saves as you did last year (43 SV's in'10, 28 SV's in '11). I can only imagine how brutal the fall would have been had you pitched for a primetime organization like the Yankees or such. The Tommy John surgery that took you out of action explained a lot about the big dropoff in the eyes of many fans, especially me, but it still remains to be seen if you can recapture the lost magic of yesterday.
So Angel fans, do you think Soria is worth pursuing?
He is just coming off of Tommy John surgery and wouldn't even be able to pitch until May, so he'll miss the beginning of the season. Pitchers do usually come back stronger from Tommy John surgery and with Soria that make him a huge investment, especially for this beleaguered bullpen. Unfortunately nowdays all about squezzing every last dollar out of a contract and Jerry Dipoto has already stated that he does not like to go big on relievers, that could mean avoiding Soria if his price gets too high. With the Yankees involved it most likely will, and Soria already expressed interesting in setting up for his old idol Mariano Rivera so it might not even be worth it to the Angels to try and pursue him. With all the money Dipoto is saving I could see him spending a bit extra for a primetime reliever like Soria.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Dipoto offer him a respectable $5-6 million 1 year contract to let him reestablish his value. I can imagine they'll use the Rays re-signing of Joel Perlta on a two year $6 million deal as a floor for negotations. Adding in the flow of the market (aka the jackassery of spend happy GM's) I don't see Soria signing for any less than $5 million. Dipoto has a good eye for relievers as he's shown so far, if he decides whether or not his value equates to his market value then we'll have to trust his judgement. The only thing that bothers me is Soria made it sound like setting up for Mariano Rivera was a compromise for not closing, a title I'm not sure he would be handed were he to sign with the Angels given his uncertainty. By the time he'd be pitching for the Angels a month would have gone by and Frieri would have already settled in as the closer for the Angels, and unless he agrees to set-up I'm not sure he'd be happy with this.
Soria project's to be a low risk/high reward reliever. If Dipoto saw fit to offer Soria a one year contract that Soria accepts it could very well shape the Angels bullpen into a death trap for opposing teams, at worst the Angels will be stuck with a bad one year deal. I know with the bullpen problems the Angels have been having the past few years one bad contract could really screw things up in the 'pen, but to me the risk's are heavily outweighed by the rewards. Even if Soria delievers half of what he used to be capable of before his Tommy John surgery the Angels will be set up fantastically with Frieri and a hopefully resurgent Downs setting up Soria to close the door on any team unlucky enough to stand before him.
Even though Jerry Dipoto might say he doesn't like working free agency to find relievers, but I think Soria is at least worth kicking the tires on. I'm sure Dipoto has it in him to offer at least one reasonable contract to a free agent reliever this offseason that I hope to god isn't Jose Valverde. Soria just fits the Angels gameplan this offseason all too well, a reliever who could come in at a very respectable price and possibly deliever a monumental season.
Get on that phone Jerry.