The assumption, or at least expectation, was that when the Royals bought out Joakim Soria‘s contract, they’d be able to renegotiate and keep him in Kansas City on a smaller deal while he works back from Tommy John surgery.
He hasn’t signed elsewhere yet, so this is still a possibility, but it’s sounding like that window is closing.
Earlier today, Soria’s agent said that the two-time All-Star would be willing to be the setup man for Mariano Rivera on the New York Yankees. That’s not a bad gig at all, and if that puts the Royals in a bidding war with the Yankees, it’s not likely they’re going to win. Further, signing with the Yankees would almost assure Soria of taking over in 2014 when Rivera retires (IF he retires, ever). Other comments also suggest that closing is in Soria’s mind. His agent, Oscar Suarez, said “he would close everywhere except [New York].”
So bidding war with the Yankees. Strike one. Soria wants to close (which is how it sounds to me). Strike two.
For a player that the Royals don’t necessarily need (they have Greg Holland and even Kelvin Herrera if they need a closer), getting into a bidding war when bigger priorities require attention isn’t a smart move. The Royals may see one year guaranteed (with incentives) with an option (or two) as their best offer. Other teams may see a guaranteed two year deal as the same kind of low-investment deal the Royals would see as too much of a commitment.Big market teams can take those chances and eat the money if it fails, if Soria’s elbow isn’t the same. He may not pitch until May or even June, so there’s already some lost value from the Royals side. They don’t need to overpay for just four months of production.
While it’d be great to bring Soria back from a sentimental point of view, the best approach if the bidding gets too high is to bow out. Use the money elsewhere. Many fans will scream bloody murder, especially if the Yankees do sign him. That’s fine. Sometimes the business of baseball has to win out, and this would be a case where the Royals should stick to their guns.
If Soria wants to stay with the team that turned him into a star and helped him through his rehab, they, and Royals fans, would be glad to have him. If he’s looking for more, that’s strike three against the Royals and he’ll be on his way out.