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.

Masahiro Tanaka throws two-hit shutout vs. Rays

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka went the distance, holding the Rays scoreless on two hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts across nine innings on Monday night in the Bronx. It’s the fourth shutout of his career, accounting for four of the Yankees’ last six shutouts. The other two were thrown my Luis Severino and Brandon McCarthy.

DJ LeMahieu provided the bulk of the offense, swatting a two-run home run off of Yonny Chirinos in the third inning. Cameron Maybin tacked on a solo homer off of Chirinos in the fifth as the Yankees went on to win 3-0.

After Monday’s performance, Tanaka owns a 3.23 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 20 walks across 92 innings on the season.

With the win, the Yankees increase their lead over the Rays for first place in the AL East to 1.5 games.