Nice work by Scott Boras on the Rafael Soriano deal

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The Rafael Soriano deal represents some pretty sweet work by Scott Boras. Not just the in the sell-ice-to-Eskimos sense — the Yankees already have a pretty decent bullpen ace — but also in its structure.

As was reported all over the place, the contract calls for Soriano to make $10 million this season, $11 million in 2012 and $14 million in 2013. But the final two years are player options, which means that Soriano can opt-out after this season. Or after 2012. This is savvy because there’s a non-trivial chance that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will do away with free agent compensation picks heading into 2012, and Soriano’s status as a Type-A was probably the biggest thing hindering his marketability this year. No one wants to give up a first round pick if they don’t have to.

So, if Soriano has a great year, he can make big money again next winter. And of course, then the deal is way better for the Yankees than first thought because it could only be a one year deal. If he doesn’t? Well, they’re still the Yankees and they can handle it.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.