It’s amazing how quiet the market has been this winter for free agent reliever Rafael Soriano. He was one of the best bullpen pitchers in all of baseball last year with a 1.73 ERA and 0.80 WHIP across 64 appearances.
His 45 saves in 48 chances led all American League closers and he struck out 57 batters while walking only 14. And, yet, only a couple of clubs have let it known that they have interest in the right-hander.
Most teams simply want to avoid the lofty price tag. In a world where Joaquin Benoit can score a three-year, $16.5 million deal, Soriano should be able to command — or at least ask for — a four-year contract worth close to $25 million.
Whatever the case, it seems like the White Sox are at least investigating Soriano as a possible replacement for Bobby Jenks. SI.com’s Jon Heyman said Saturday that there “seems to be interest” coming from the south side of Chicago, though money may be a real problem. The White Sox have already handed out a couple of big contracts this offseason and would really have to stretch their budget to get something done.
It may take another week or two for the 31-year-old’s market to fully develop.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.
The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.
Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.
While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.