Rays Gets Their Closer, Trade For Rafael Soriano

Finally, finally the Tampa Bay Rays get their closer.

The Rays have needed a closer for the past two years and now they finally have one–and I believe a good one.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Rays have acquired RHP Rafael Soriano from the Atlanta Braves for RHP Jesse Chavez. The Rays will pay all of Soriano’s salary. They could go to arbitration or work out a multi-year deal.

Soriano is heading south to the Rays

I wrote that Soriano was the best reliever on the market this offseason and now the Rays have him. This deal was made possible because Soriano gave his consent to a trade.

If you remember, Soriano accepted arbitration from the Braves. By baseball rules, the Braves couldn’t trade Soriano before June 15 without his consent.

This is a great move for the Rays for a couple of reasons. For one, they finally have a closer. They got away with not having one in 2008, but it really came back to bite them in the rear in 2009.

The Rays were fifth in the American League in blown saves with 22.

Soriano now gives them stability in the back of the pen. Over the last four years, Soriano has a 2.76 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and has averaged 10.3 K’s/9 in 221.2 IP.

Second, this allows JP Howell and Dan Wheeler to back to where they belong–as eighth inning set-up guys.

I am a big believer in putting people in roles which allow them to perform the best they can. I guess it’s a belief that I have developed managing people over the last couple of years at my real job.

But Howell and Wheeler aren’t closers. They are classic set-up guys. Now they can go back to their familiar roles and be comfortable.

As for Chavez, this is the second time he was traded his offseason. He was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Rays in the Akinori Iwamura deal.

Chavez appeared in 73 games for the Pirates in 2008 posting a 4.01 ERA, 1.351 WHIP, and a 6.3 K/9 rate. Chavez does have a homerun problem. He gave up 11 big-flies in those 73 games, which isn’t great for a reliever.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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