After going unsigned two months into the season, veteran reliever Rafael Soriano agreed to a minor league contract with the Cubs earlier this week. However, it’s going to be a while before he joins the major league bullpen.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said today that he doesn’t expect Soriano to help until after the All-Star break. In other words, he’s about a month away. The 35-year-old is currently throwing at the team’s Dominican Republic academy and will almost certainly need to pitch in a handful of minor league games before being activated.
Soriano posted a 3.19 ERA and 59/19 K/BB ratio over 62 innings with the Nationals last season, but he lost his closer job down the stretch following a rough second half. Per James Wagner of the Washington Post, he’ll make a prorated $4.1 million salary with the Cubs and could earn an additional $4 million in bonuses for games finished and appearances.
Maddon recently pulled Hector Rondon from a save chance, which has led to all sorts of speculation about the team’s closer situation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Cubs and Blue Jays are among the teams who have had recent trade talks with the Phillies about Jonathan Papelbon.
It’s been known for a while that the Phillies are shopping outfielder Ben Revere, but there was an interesting note from Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune today that talks with the Mariners quickly stalled because Philadelphia was asking for James Paxton or Taijuan Walker in return. That’s insane, of course, but it led to the predictable mocking of Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. on Twitter and in other places.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal asked Amaro about the rumor this afternoon and he got a pretty strong response:
“Typically we would not comment on rumors. But when they reach this level of ridiculousness, I can say unequivocally that what has been written is false.”
We’ve heard similar reports regarding teams who are talking to the Phillies about Cole Hamels, which paints the picture of Amaro as asking for too much in return. Sure, we’ve had laughs at Amaro’s expense in recent years, but it’s important to stop and think about what could be motivating teams to leak this sort of information to the media. Our own Bill Baer wrote about this very topic at Crashburn Alley and you should check it out.
Athletics left-hander Scott Kazmir held the Rangers to just one hit — a single from Elvis Andrus in the third inning — over eight scoreless innings as part of a 7-0 victory this afternoon. However, he got some help along the way from center fielder Billy Burns, who made a pair of amazing catches.
Watch both of them below:
In addition to his heroics in the field, Burns had a nice day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly, a walk, a run scored, and a stolen base.