There's something incredibly frustrating and annoying about the whole free agency period. Besides the awful rosterbating nature of the hot stove, because what's better than a cooking metaphor when talking baseball, it's always just a lot of talk. This player is talking to this team is talking with this agent who is talking with several other teams who are talking with another player. Then that player signs with someone completely different because he never had interest in playing with the first team. Money drives a lot of a player's interest, but it doesn't drive all of it. (see: Cliff Lee) It seems like a waste of time talking about a player, or players, who we don't really know anything about and may have no interest in playing for the Yankees. I get why people like it, but that's just me.
This is a little bit different, though. With Rafael Soriano all but certain to leave and the Yankees in need of a viable replacement, according to Andrew Marchand, Joakim Soria would apparently be interested if the team came knocking. That he has interest, the fact that he closed for the Royals and that he missed the 2012 season with Tommy John surgery is about all most of us can say about Soria. Oh, and he was part of some truly awful trade discussions a year or so ago. With that trade gone by the wayside, and thanks to the Royals' decision to decline his option, we're free to consider the possibilities and look a little closer at what kind of pitcher he is.
His expression of interest comes at a kind of an odd time considering the Yankees just found out that Mariano Rivera plans to return next season. If past negotiations with closers are any indication, unless the money is too much to turn down, they are almost certainly looking for another chance to close. That isn't going to happen in New York if Rivera can walk and throw the ball. He, or rather his agent, said that he would be willing to set up in New York, which is a whole different issue. Would he supplant David Robertson in the eighth inning role? Would he sign with the Yankees if he knew he wasn't going to be the true setup guy? Will the team finally figure out that situation, not ‘role', should determine how a reliever is used? The off-season brings up so many interesting questions.
Those questions are all legitimate, but the biggest question is should the Yankees share Soria's interest? Should being the opportune word, being that would seems like it's too obvious. He's a free agent reliever who likely won't command a multi-year deal from a team that needs relievers who don't have a second arm simply for the purpose of not falling off balance when they walk. Any team would be interested in that. It's should because there are legitimate concerns about just about every pitcher coming off of major surgery and a down year prior to that.
Gun to my head about whether Soria would be right for the team, I ask the person holding it why they're asking me baseball questions in between sobbing and pleading for my life. But if an answer is demanded, it's hard to be against a pitcher who seems like such a natural fit. It became obvious towards the end of last season that the Yankees were in need of a non-specialist reliever for the middle to late innings with Robertson and Soriano locked into the last two innings. Early ineffectiveness from Joba Chamberlain forced Boone Logan, Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada into work that their skill sets aren't geared towards.
Even with the down year in 2011, Soria has next to no platoon split (.248 wOBA vs. left, .270 wOBA vs. right) for his career. While righties hit slightly better against him, Soria strikes out more hitters on that side, likely due an above average slider that he uses almost exclusively against righties. In that sense he could slide right into the Eppley role and expand on it, meaning he could be left in to face lefties and without fans having to do the horror movie peek through the fingers thing. That almost certainly wouldn't be his role, nor should it be, but that would free up Eppley to do other things; like not face lefties ever.
There doesn't seem to be much downside to trying to signing Soria. Unless he's demanding multiple years or an ungodly amount of money, Cashman and company should at least check in. Multiple years for probably isn't a deal breaker, but like we've seen with Pedro Feliciano, and to a lesser extent with Joba, expecting an injured pitchers to be an air-tight solution is a sketchy proposition. A one-year deal with some closer incentives in case of Rivera-related emergency would be ideal. With Rivera, Robertson, Joba, Aardsma and Logan all due back, adding Soria to that mix makes the bullpen much more solid than 2012's -oogy heavy roster. It's certainly looks like plus on paper, especially when the rotation appears to be filled with more question marks than certainties right now.