Rafael Soriano expected to opt out of contract with Yankees

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Hardly shocking news here, but Rafael Soriano is expected to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract with the Yankees and test free agency.

Soriano has until three days after the World Series to decide whether to accept his $14 million option for next season or reject it and receive a $1.5 million buyout. Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with Soriano’s agent, Scott Boras, and while he wouldn’t definitively say his client will opt out, he did say “there is a strong chance that he would have tremendous value as a free agent.” Not difficult to read between the lines there.

Soriano, who turns 33 in December, figures to do very well in free agency after posting a 2.26 ERA, 42 saves and a 69/24 K/BB ratio over 67 2/3 innings this season while filling in for Mariano Rivera in the closer role.

The Yankees will likely make Soriano a qualifying offer if he opts for free agency in order to set themselves up for draft pick compensation. The qualifying offer is determined by the average of the top 125 salaries in the game, so it will likely be an offer in the range of $13.3-13.6 million. There’s always the chance that Soriano could accept and once again be a very expensive set-up man, but the thought is that he’ll be on the lookout for a multi-year deal on the open market.

UPDATE: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that qualifying offers for free agents need to be worth $13.3 million.

Mark Melancon is considering surgery

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Giants’ right-hander Mark Melancon is considering surgery for an undisclosed injury, the pitcher told reporters prior to Friday’s game against the Phillies. Melancon did not divulge the exact location of the injury, but revealed that it had been plaguing him off and on since the 2012 season and was a separate issue from the right pronator strain that kept him sidelined through much of July and August. Giants’ head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner called the injury day-to-day and has not revealed a timetable for the right-hander’s return, should surgery become necessary.

Melancon, 32, has struggled to replicate the sparkling pitching line he produced with the Pirates and Nationals in 2016. He’s toting a 3.80 ERA through 25 appearances with San Francisco, flanked by a 1.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 23 2/3 innings. His season has been significantly shortened after multiple trips to the disabled list for a right forearm strain, and while he looked to be in line to resume his closing duties this week, the Giants will likely play it safe with the veteran righty to keep him from compromising his health in 2018.

Although the injury doesn’t appear to be severe in nature, it’s clearly intensified over the last few months. Per MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Melancon said he’s “had discomfort every day this season,” though he hopes to continue pitching through the remainder of 2017. The Giants aren’t on the verge of contending by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid end to the 2017 season could help Melancon make some headway as he looks to reclaim his status as the team’s closer next spring.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.