UPDATE: Not so fast on the Soriano stuff. Mark Feinsand just spoke to a Yankees official and he downplayed the idea, saying “the price is going to be too high.” And it will be too high, objectively speaking, for a setup man. But it’s not like the Yankees (a) couldn’t use the help in the pen; and (b) could’t afford it. And as some of you mentioned in the comments section, filling out the pen could help shake Joba Chamberlain free for a trade. I mean, sure, the Yankees don’t see him as a starter anymore, but someone might, and he could form the basis of a package that could get a useful starting pitcher in return.
3:59 PM: The arms race is getting out of control. The Red Sox get Jenks? Fine. The Yankees want Rafael Soriano. Mark Feinsand of the Daily News:
According to a source with knowledge of the Yankees’ thinking, the Bombers are “exploring” the option of signing Soriano, the All-Star closer who pitched last year for the Rays. With plenty of money to spare in the wake of Cliff Lee’s return to Philadelphia, the Yankees have held preliminary discussions with Scott Boras about Soriano, the source said.
Soriano used to be the best setup guy in baseball. In New York he’d have that role again. And, if it was a three-year deal, he could be Mariano Rivera’s heir.
In other news, if the Yankees did get Soriano — and if the Red Sox don’t find a sucker to take Papelbon — they and the Sox would have four of the top eight closers — at least in terms of saves — from the 2010 season on their rosters. Which is cool with me because (a) who cares about saves; and (b) both the Jenks and Soriano signings would address legitimate needs for each team, but you figure a lot of people will freak out about this.
On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.
Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:
“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”
“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”
“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”
Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.
Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.
WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.
Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.
Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.