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Hot Stove: Washington Nationals Sign Rafael Soriano
Reggie Yinger | Tuesday January 15th, 2013
The Nats bolster their bullpen by adding Rafael Soriano. (US Presswire)
The Nats bolster their bullpen by adding Rafael Soriano. (US Presswire)
The Washington Nationals have made another move this off-season, as the team announced they were in agreement of terms on a two-year deal with reliever Rafael Soriano

The deal is reportedly worth $28 million, however, Soriano will make approximately $7 million in 2013, $7 million in 2014, and $14 million in deferred payments from 2018-2025. The deal also includes a 2015 vesting option worth $14 million, based on Soriano finishing 120 games over the next two seasons.

Soriano, 33, has spent the past two seasons with the New York Yankees. Although he was originally signed as a setup reliever for Mariano Rivera, Soriano recorded 42 saves in 2012 as a result of Mariano Rivera missing significant time with an injury. In 11 big-league seasons, Soriano has recorded 145 saves, a 2.78 ERA, and 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9).

With a late inning bullpen already consisting of Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, the move comes as a bit of surprise to baseball fans. However, with the struggles that Storen showed in the postseason last year, Soriano could play out to be a bigger move for the Nationals on the trade market.

Soriano is a good reliever, but with just three seasons under his belt as a "full time closer", the move certainly comes with risk. He closed games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 (27 saves) and 2010 (45 saves) before leaving for New York on a two-year deal. However, the Nationals wouldn't pay Soriano $14 million over two seasons just to setup another reliever.

His pitching arsenal has proven to be effective, posting a swinging strike percentage of 11.3% in 2012 and 11.2% in 2011 (Data via Fangraphs.com). Here are the swinging strike percentages for Soriano by year compared to the league average from seasons 2008 to 2012.

Google Visualization API Sample

As the data shows, Soriano has done an excellent job of causing hitters to swing and miss.

From a fantasy standpoint, I originally had Soriano placed in Tier 5, as the projections were geared toward him as a setup man and as a free agent. After entering updated information and considering the Nationals should win a lot of games this season, he's currently listed as a Tier 3 Reliever/Closer.
Reggie YingerReggie is a writer and the co-founder of Baseball Press. He enjoys fantasy baseball and hates when players bunt in baseball.