Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have exercised their $7 million option on reliever Joakim Soria.
Soria was dealt from Texas to Detroit in the middle of the season and, overall, posted a 3.25 ERA in 48 appearances while battling injuries. He was better in Texas, serving as the closer and saving 17 of 19 games. In Detroit his role was less-than-defined, though, with manager Brad Ausmus unwilling to use Soria over Joe Nathan in the ninth inning or, less excusably, Joba Chamberlain in the eighth. He only pitched one inning over two appearances in the playoffs, and was shellacked.
Of course, given how bad the Tigers bullpen served them and given how relievers can be sort of unpredictable from year to year, it is not at all surprising that the Tigers are bringing Soria back, even at $7 million. The only question is when he’ll pitch. I could see him doing everything from mopping up to closing in 2015, frankly.
Yesterday we wrote about Carter Stewart, the American pitcher who, after failing to sign with the Braves last year, went to junior college. Rather than re-enter the draft this year, Stewart has signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League.
Jeff Passan of ESPN has the details on that deal: $7 million for six years. That’s five million more than the lowball offer the Braves gave him after drafting him last year and over $2 million more than he would’ve gotten if the Braves had paid him slot last year. This year he was projected to be a second round pick, Passan says, so his slot bonus would’ve been under $2 million.
As Passan notes, though, he has the chance to make out far better than that, though. That’s because his six-year deal would allow the now-19-year-old Stewart to come back to the U.S. as a 25-year-old free agent via the posting system. Passan does some back-of-the-envelope figuring, comparing what he’d make in the U.S. had he stayed vs. the $7 million he’s now guaranteed in Japan:
In a near-optimal scenario, Stewart would receive around $4 million for the next six years — and would not reach free agency until after the 2027 season, when he will be 28. His deal with the Hawks would guarantee Stewart $3 million more and potentially allow him to hit free agency three years earlier.
He could flame out, of course. The Braves’ lowball offer was based on concerns about his wrist. Even without that, there are no guarantees when young arms are involved.
But there is a $7 million guarantee for Stewart now, and the chance to do better than if he had stayed in the U.S. And the opportunity was created, in large part, by Major League Baseball’s clamping down on pay for draft picks and doing whatever it can to extend team control over players via service time manipulation. Stewart, and his agent Scott Boras, are merely exploiting an inefficiency in the market.