UPDATE: Yankees downplay the Rafael Soriano thing. Not that it doesn’t make sense.

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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.

What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

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Yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions leveled on the Atlanta Braves hit them pretty hard, but it also turned a dozen players into free agents. What happens to them now? Who can sign them? When? And for how much?

First off, they get to keep their signing bonuses the Braves gave them. It wasn’t their fault the Braves messed up so it would make no sense for them to have to pay the money back. As for their next team: anyone can, theoretically, sign them. As far as team choice, they are free agents in the most narrow sense of the term.

There are limits, however, because as young, international players, their signings are subject to those caps on each team’s international bonus money which were imposed a few years back. Each team now has a “pool” of finite dollars they can spend on such players and, once that money is spent, teams are severely limited as to what they can offer an international free agent. Each summer the bonus pools are reset and it starts anew.

Which, on the surface, would seem to create a problem for the 12 new free agents, seeing as though a lot of teams have already spent much if not all of their July 2017-18 bonus pools. The good news on that, though, is that Major League Baseball has made a couple of exceptions for these guys:

  • First, the first $200,000 of any of the 12 former Braves players will not be subject to signing pools, so that’s a bit of a break; and
  • Second, even though these players will all likely be signed during the 2017-18 bonus pool period, teams have the option of counting the bonus toward the 2018-19 period. They can’t combine the money from the two periods, but they can, essentially, put off the cost into next year for accounting purposes.

Which certainly opens things up for clubs and gives the players more options as far as places to land go. A club can decide whether or not the guys on the market now look better than the guys they’ve been scouting with an eye toward signing after July 2018 and get a jump on things. Likewise, teams don’t have to decide whether or not to take a run at, say, Shohei Ohtani, burning bonus money now, or instead going after a former Braves player. Ohtani’s money will apply now, the Braves player can be accounted for next year.

The new free agents are eligible to sign during a window that begins on December 5 and ends on Jan. 15. If a player hasn’t signed by then, he can still sign with any club but cannot get a bonus. If a player hasn’t signed anywhere by May 1, 2018, he has the option of re-signing with the Braves, though they can’t pay the guy a bonus either.

Ben Badler of Baseball America has a rundown of the top guys who are now free agents thanks to the Braves’ malfeasance. Kevin Maitan is the big name. The 17-year-old shortstop was considered the top overall international free agent last year, though his first year in the Braves minor league system was less-than-impressive. There are a lot of other promising players too. All of whom now can find new employers.