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New York Yankees GM: Decision to sign former Tampa Bay Ray Rafael Soriano not his, but rather owner Hal Steinbrenner's move

NEW YORK — In a move mirroring those of his famous father, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner overruled general manager Brian Cashman in giving a $35 million, three-year contract to former Rays closer Rafael Soriano.

Distancing himself from the decision after a news conference Wednesday to introduce Mariano Rivera's new setup man, Cashman said he didn't think it was worth playing closer money for a pitcher the team plans to use in the eighth inning.

And he didn't want to lose his first-round pick in June's amateur draft, which now goes to the Rays as compensation.

"I think it's certainly a sign that at times if Hal feels that he wants to go in a different direction, that could happen," Cashman said. "Does that happen often? Will it happen a lot? I just think it depends on the circumstances."

Cashman stayed with the Yankees after the 2005 season, in part because Steinbrenner gave him increased authority over baseball operations and removed interference from other factions in the organization.

But George Steinbrenner turned control of the team over to Hal in November 2008, and the owner died in July at age 80. Cashman's contract expires after this season.

"Ultimately Hal is in charge of making a final call and what he feels is the best direction at that time frame, and Hal made the call," Cashman said from the news conference room across from the Yankees' clubhouse.

"This is Hal Steinbrenner and his family's franchise. This is not mine. … I'm charged with making recommendations. … This was not something that was done without me being aware of it. I had my say."

Soriano joins what appears to be a strong bullpen that includes right-handers Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson, and left-handers Pedro Feliciano and Boone Logan.

Soriano was an AL All-Star last season, when he had a league-leading 45 saves in his only year with the Rays.

He gave up closing to become Rivera's understudy.

"I know that a lot of people will find this strange, but I'm very happy to be close to one of the greatest closers," Soriano said through a translator. "And hopefully in the future, I will after being a setup man, be a closer, too. I'm going to learn a lot from him."

Cashman said the Yankees will be a better team with Soriano. He just wasn't sure this was the wisest use of New York's money.

Trade finalized: The Nationals completed their trade to acquire left-hander Tom Gorze­lanny from the Cubs for three minor-leaguers, including outfielder Michael Burgess, a former Hillsborough High standout. The Nats also agreed to terms with utility player Jerry Hairston.

Blue Jays: Roy Hartsfield, the club's manager for its first three seasons (1977-79), died Saturday in Ball Ground, Ga. He was 85.

TWINS: Right-hander Carl Pavano returned to the team with a new $16.5 million, two-year contract.

New York Yankees GM: Decision to sign former Tampa Bay Ray Rafael Soriano not his, but rather owner Hal Steinbrenner's move 01/19/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 7:43pm]
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