Rays get "significant" addition, Soriano gets $7.25-million deal
The acquisition of closer Rafael Soriano from Atlanta officially announced around 12:30 today, as was news that he agreed to a 1-year deal for $7.25-million.
"We felt like he really fit us extremely well,'' executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "This is a significant move for us in terms of what he can bring to our bullpen. We had our eyes on different guys but I don't think any that make us feel as confident about our bullpen heading into the season as we do right now. ... We feel as good about the names that we have and the way that they match up as I think we could have possibly hoped to.''
Friedman said there is "definitely a trickle-down effect" and that the trade "enhances our entire bullpen.'' Soriano will be the closer; the Rays will use J.P. Howell, Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour in other key late situations based on matchups and situations. "We feel really good about where we are right now,'' Friedman said.
Friedman referred to Soriano pitching not only to save games but also to "keep games tight for our offense to come back,'' with the idea it can lead to more walkoff wins.
Rays officials said it took a "perfect storm" of events for Soriano to end up a Ray - specificially that when he accepted arbitration from the Braves, it allowed the Rays to get him on a one-year deal, to acquire him without giving up any big pieces, and to not have to surrender their first-round draft pick as compensation.
Team president Matt Silverman said they realized the market changed when Soriano accepted arbitration, and their "nimbleness" allowed them to act quickly and get the deal done.
Silverman said with the addition of Soriano the Rays are "over-extended" on payroll - which now could exceed $70-million - for 2010 and "it certainly will affect the future.''
After technology foiled an attempted conference call, here are quotes from Soriano distributed by the Rays:
Feelings on trade and coming to Tampa Bay: “I had been speaking to my agent and preparing mentally for whatever may happen and wherever I may end up. I’m very pleased to be part of Tampa Bay’s team. It’s a young team and they were just in the World Series a couple of years ago. I’m very happy to be a part of this team.”
On AL East: “I’ve always been the type of person that prepares for anything. I know the AL East is made up of strong teams, but because of the type of pitcher I am I think I can handle it. I had already played for an AL team with Seattle.”
On choosing arbitration: “ I chose salary arbitration because they (the Braves) had showed interest in keeping me. Then they said I was too expensive and that I wasn’t going to be their closer. Either way I think everything turned out the way it was supposed to and I’m happy to be part of Tampa Bay’s team now.”