Deal sending Soriano to Rays is done

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UPDATE: The deal is now official. It’s 1-year, $7.25 million.
12-10-09, 12:21 P.M.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the trade sending Rafael Soriano from Atlanta to Tampa Bay is all but completed after the Rays worked out a one-year deal worth around $7 million with Soriano.
Tampa Bay wanted to get a contract finalized rather than risk going to arbitration with Soriano, because at that point his 2010 salary would be largely out of the Rays’ hands. Atlanta wanted to shed Soriano’s salary after he surprisingly accepted the Braves’ arbitration offer, and in doing so pick up a fairly generic middle reliever in Jesse Chavez.
While costly, Soriano is a huge addition to the Rays’ bullpen after saving 27 games with a 2.97 ERA, 102/27 K/BB ratio, and .194 opponents’ batting average over 75.2 innings in 2009. When healthy he’s among the most dominant pitchers in baseball and forms an excellent righty-lefty combo with J.P. Howell. Soriano figures to take over as the full-time closer after Howell led the team with just 17 saves and eight other Rays notched at least one. Very nice move for Tampa Bay.

Report: MLB likely to unilaterally implement pace of play changes

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that talks between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association concerning pace of play changes have stalled, which makes it more likely that commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally implements the changes he seeks. Those changes include a pitch clock and a restriction on catcher mound visits.

Manfred said, “My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players. But if we can’t get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.”

The players have made several suggestions aimed at reducing the length of games, such as amending replay review rules, strictly monitoring down time between innings, and bringing back bullpen carts.

It is believed that MLB is proposing a pitch clock of 20 seconds. If a pitcher takes too long between pitches, he will have a ball added to the count. If the hitter takes too long, then he will have a strike added to the count.