Royals expected to decline Joakim Soria’s option for 2013

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Joakim Soria took a big step in his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery by throwing yesterday for the first time, but with his status for the beginning of next season still uncertain Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals “are expected to exercise a $750,000 buyout clause” of his $8 million option.

That would make Soria a very interesting free agent, because he’s just 28 years old and was one of the truly elite relievers in baseball from 2007-2011. Dutton notes that “both sides have expressed interest in working out a new deal” but it seems likely that Soria would at least want to test the market and see if there are any teams willing to offer him multi-year deals.

Among all active pitchers with at least 250 career innings Soria ranks third in opponents’ OPS (.579), fifth in ERA (2.40), and ninth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.92).

Braves sign reliever Will Smith to three-year, $39 million contract

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The Braves announced on Thursday that the club has inked lefty reliever Will Smith to a three-year, $39 million contract with a club option for the 2023 season worth $13 million. Smith received a qualifying offer worth $17.8 million from the Giants, so he opted for a lower average annual value for a longer contract.

Smith, 30, was an All-Star last season with the Giants, finishing with 34 saves, a 2.76 ERA, and a 96/21 K/BB ratio across 65 1/3 innings. Across parts of seven seasons in the majors, he has a 3.53 ERA.

Smith, the top free agent left-handed reliever, will join a strong Braves bullpen which already includes Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, and Sean Newcomb.