In a very surprising move, Atlanta Braves’ relief pitcher Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration last night from Braves.
The Braves got a hint over the weekend from Soriano’s agent Peter Greenberg that Soriano might accept arbitration. However, I don’t think the Braves actually thought he was going to move forward with that decision.
Soriano had until 11:59 pm est last night to make a decision on arbitration.
Now the Braves have a problem–albeit a good problem to have. The Braves have one to many quality relievers and high-priced relievers in the bullpen.
The Braves just recently signed Billy Wagner to a one-year, $7 million deal and Takashi Saito to a one-year, $3 million deal to replace the believed to be departing Soriano and Mike Gonzalez.
With Soriano going to make possibly $7-$8 million in arbitration, that would be almost $20 million the Braves would have to commit to the back-end of the bullpen–way to much.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Braves GM Frank Wren said the Braves were “protected” in regards to the possibility of Soriano and/or Gonzalez accepting arbitration.
Wren believes “It’s not a big deal either way.”
By baseball rules, because Soriano accepted arbitration, the Braves can’t trade Soriano without his consent before June 15.
As for Soriano, I am shocked by the move. Did him and his agent really feel that the 29-year-old flame thrower, possibly coming off his best year, couldn’t get a multi-year deal?
I thought he could have easily gotten a multi-year deal from the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I guess I was wrong.
The Braves now have by far and away the best pitching staff top to bottom in the National League. However, look for them to really push to trade Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez in order to free up some money to acquire an impact bat.
Soriano finished 2009 with 27 saves, a 2.97 ERA and had a career high 12.13 K’s/9 in 73 innings.
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