Reports: Rays pick up Soriano to take over closer's role

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Sources told SI.com’s Jon Heyman that the deal sending Rafael Soriano to the Rays is done, pending a physical.
In return, the Braves are set to receive Jesse Chavez, the right-handed reliever the Rays previously picked up from the Pirates for Akinori Iwamura this winter.
The deal nets the Rays a closer without forcing them to forfeit their first-round pick or a property nearly as valuable as said pick. Chavez, 25, had a 4.01 ERA and a 47/22 K/BB ratio in 67 1/3 innings for Pittsburgh last season. Braves fans will likely have a hard time distinguishing him from Manny Acosta.
Soriano joins a pen that’s also set to include J.P. Howell, Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, Lance Cormier and Randy Choate. He can’t necessarily be counted on to throw 70 innings again, but he’s a dominant reliever when healthy and there’s a definite chance that he’ll become the first Ray to save 30 games since Danys Baez in 2005.
At approximately $8 million for 2010, Soriano doesn’t come cheap. The Rays, though, viewed landing a closer as a top priority and don’t have any other glaring needs that will require a big investment. Since they didn’t have to commit to him for multiple years, it was a deal worth doing.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉