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Tampa Bay Rays lose closer Rafael Soriano to AL East rival New York Yankees

Former Rays closer Rafael Soriano finally found a new home, agreeing to a three-year, $35 million deal with the Yankees, according to multiple reports Thursday night.

Soriano, who led the American League last season with 45 saves, will serve as baseball's highest-paid setup man for Mariano Rivera for the next two seasons then, presumably, take over as closer. Unable thus far to plug holes in their rotation, the Yankees are instead building a dominating bullpen.

The deal allows Soriano to opt out after each season; he would get $11.5 million if he leaves after one, $21.5 million if he leaves after two.

Soriano, 31, had been seeking a big-dollar deal since hiring Scott Boras as his agent just before the end of the season. He made $7.25 million last season in Tampa Bay.

The Rays will get the Yankees' first-round pick (31st overall) in this year's draft, plus a compensation pick between Rounds 1 and 2. They'll get another compensation pick as reliever Chad Qualls is close to agreeing to a one-year, $2 million contact with the Padres.

Overall, the Rays will have three picks in the first round and nine before the start of the second. They can still get two more picks if Grant Balfour signs elsewhere.

The Rays have lost five members of last season's bullpen, with Joaquin Benoit signing with Detroit, Dan Wheeler with Boston and Randy Choate with Florida.

Also:

• A deal with reliever Kyle Farnsworth appears headed for Saturday conclusion.

• Veteran middle infielder Ray Olmedo agreed to a minor-league deal, according to Baseball America.

• Team executives will be in Houston today for a memorial service for senior VP Gerry Hunsicker's wife, Irene, who died last week.

ROBINSON SCARE: Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, an MLB vice president, was hospitalized briefly due to dizziness and an irregular heartbeat but returned to attend the afternoon session at the owners meetings near Scottsdale, Ariz. Robinson, 75, said he planned to see his doctors in Los Angeles.

ORIOLES: The club finalized a $10 million, two-year deal with reliever Kevin Gregg. The 32-year-old had a 3.51 ERA and 37 saves with the Jays last season.

PADRES: Free agent catcher Gregg Zaun, 40, a former Ray, is close to an agreement.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Rays lose closer Rafael Soriano to AL East rival New York Yankees 01/13/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 11:31pm]
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