Washington Nationals sign Rafael Soriano

Nats bolster bullpen, ink Rafael Soriano

1/15/13 in MLB   |   Dan_B   |   1067 respect

Sept. 19, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano (29) pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Yanks won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY SportsThe defending NL East-champion Washington Nationals upgraded their bullpen Tuesday, signing former New York Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano to a two-year, $28 million deal. The pricey deal came as a bit of a surprise as the market seemed thin for Soriano and the Nationals already have an outstanding bullpen.

Soriano became a free agent after opting out of the last season of a three-year, $35 million contract he signed with the Yankees before the 2011 season. In 2012, Soriano assumed the Yankees' primary closer role after Mariano Rivera tore his ACL. Soriano had a great year, with 42 saves and a 2.26 ERA. 

Now the question is whether Soriano will assume closer duties in Washington. Drew Storen, the Nationals' 25-year-old closer, has been excellent as a young reliever, as has setup man Tyler Clippard. Storen missed much of last season, but pitched well down the stretch before imploding in the Nationals' Game 5 loss in the National League Division Series. 

Regardless of who is pitching in what inning, the combination of Clippard, Storen and Soriano gives the Nationals a scary backend of the bullpen, though $28 million seems like a lot to pay for the incremental upgrade of signing the 33-year-old Soriano.

The Yankees made it clear they had no interest in signing Soriano after he opted out of his deal and with his signing in Washington, the Yankees will now have two compensation draft picks, one for Soriano and one from Cleveland for the signing of Nick Swisher. 

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