Scott Boras, you will not be surprised to hear, believes that the Yankees should sign Rafael Soriano. From Jon Paul Morosi’s latest:
“If the Yankees didn’t sign Soriano, they wouldn’t have won the AL East,” Boras said flatly. “This is the value of depth. If the Yankees signed Soriano (after the 2010 season) when Rivera was 40 and healthy, why wouldn’t you sign Soriano when Rivera is 42 and coming off knee surgery? … When you know Mariano Rivera will be there for only one more year — at his age, coming off an injury — you can’t expect him to be what he was two years ago. There is a need there. You want to secure a great talent for future years. Soriano has proven he can be effective in New York. The team knows more about him. His value has gone higher.”
There is good sense in there. And, yes, the Yankees may sign Rafael Soriano. Anything can happen. But just assuming they will sign the big name free agents because they have the money like they used to is to ignore their stated and, thus far, carried out goal of getting payroll down compared to where it used to be so as to avoid the luxury tax.
The alternative to Soriano is to go with Rivera, who is coming back, Dave Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, and Cody Eppley, perhaps substituting one or two of them — or augmenting — with lower tier relievers and hoping that they can do what so many successful teams do and just capture lightning in a bottle on low price relievers.
Soriano would likely be a good pitcher for the next couple of years, but the make-do plan is not the worst plan in the world. Bullpens are crapshoots. And while there is no guarantee that Rivera is his old self when he comes back, the Yankees will start shooting craps from a pretty good position in 2013.
The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.
In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.
The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:
Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.
The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.
Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.