Yankees closer Rafael Soriano will be joining a free agent class that is light on closers, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Soriano will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Yankees, which was scheduled to pay him $13 million in 2013. He'll get a buyout of $1.5 million.
The same type of opt-out happened after last season by CC Sabathia. Sabathia ended up re-signing with the Yankees for the same $23 million per season he was scheduled to make from 2012-2015, but got an extra year for $25 million in 2016 and a $25 million vesting option for 2017. I'd assume that's what Soriano would be looking for: the salary he was scheduled to make with another two years tacked on to it. So essentially, something like three years and $39 to $42 million…in essence, a two-year contract extension.
With Mariano Rivera's torn ACL and questionable return to the Yankees, New York is in a very interesting position. If Rivera does end up retiring, the Yankees have a dire need for a closer, despite the presence of flamethrower David Robertson in their pen. It might be in the team's best interest to just walk away from Soriano and give Robertson the closer job if Rivera doesn't return, which would put Soriano in a tough place. If the Yankees essentially opted out on making an offer to him, it would be interesting to see if Soriano could get $13 million (or more) per season from a team. Last season, Jonathan Papelbon only got a $12.5 million average annual value, despite being younger than Soriano and having a much better track record of both health and performance.
This opt-out could backfire on Soriano. Many of the large market teams are set at the closer position, and if the Yankees don't want to commit money to Soriano, he could be out of luck. One possible option could be the AL champion Tigers, who have shown no hesitation to spend money in the past and don't plan on pursuing free agent incumbent Jose Valverde. If the Tigers want nothing to do with Soriano though, he might be forced to settle for much less money and fewer years than he was seeking, which would make the opt-out an utter failure.