Rafael Soriano is going to opt out of his contract today

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Rafael Soriano has until tonight to opt out of his contract. We’ve known for a while that he’s likely to do so, but Jon Heyman says that, yes, it will happen today.

It’s a no-brainer for him, even if he didn’t want to test the free agent market. He’s slated to make $14 million in 2013. If he opts out he gets $1.5 million. If the Yankees make him a qualifying offer — which they would be silly not to given what they’d pay him otherwise and because doing so gets them a draft pick if he leaves — it’s another $13.3 million. $13.3 million + 1.5 million = more than $14 million (Maths, I haz them).

That said, Soriano and his man Scott Boras are expected to shop his services for a multi-year deal. Closers, as a rule, are bad long term bets, although Soriano seems like a better bet than a lot of them. And given how here-today-gone-tomorrow that gig can be, even if Soriano gets a modest multi-year deal that pays him less in 2013 than he’d stand to get if he didn’t opt-out — something silly-low like two-years, $20 million — it’s more guaranteed money than he can count on otherwise.

Just ask Ryan Madson and Jose Valverde about what it’s like to plan for next year when you’re a closer.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.

The Rays gave Seth Smith a little league homer last night

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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:

Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.

Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.

Watch:

 

I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.

Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.