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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.

Stephen Strasburg unlikely to pitch in the NLDS

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals walks off the field after an injury in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday that starter Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the NLDS against the Dodgers, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic reports. Strasburg hasn’t pitched since September 7 due to a strained flexor mass.

Strasburg was pitching well before a few poor starts prior to being shut down in August. He currently holds a 3.60 ERA with a 183/44 K/BB ratio in 147 2/3 innings.

The Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension in May. This was obviously not how they invisioned his 2016 campaign going.

A.J. Cole fined, suspended five games for throwing at Jung Ho Kang

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Home plate umpire Jordan Baker ejects A.J. Cole #22 of the Washington Nationals in the third inning during the game at PNC Park on September 25, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Nationals starter A.J. Cole has been fined an undisclosed amount and suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally throwing at Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Cole is appealing his suspension.

Kang faked a tag on Bryce Harper, who was coming into third base on a triple. The fake-out caused Harper to slide awkwardly, injuring his left thumb. The Nationals took exception to this and Cole threw a fastball that ended sailing behind Kang’s back during his next at-bat. Cole was ejected and both benches emptied. There was some yelling and some light pushing and shoving, but nothing beyond that.

Cole will remain active until his appeal is heard, which may allow him to make one more start before the end of the regular season. He’s carrying a 5.09 ERA with a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 35 1/3 innings over seven starts this season.