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December 4, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Rangers Ink Soria

by Ben Lindbergh

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TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Reportedly signed RHP Joakim Soria to a two-year, $8-9 million contract. [12/4]

In March of 2010, Joe Nathan had Tommy John surgery. A year later, he returned to the Twins and proved he was healthy (or something close to it), if not necessarily the same old Nathan. The Rangers saw the potential for him to return to his old heights, though, and they signed him to a two-year contract worth a guaranteed $14.75 million last November. In Texas, Nathan pitched more or less like he always has when healthy, striking out well over a batter per inning and finishing just outside the top 10 in WARP among relievers.

In other words, that signing worked out well. So well, in fact, that the Rangers have reportedly decided to sign another formerly successful closer and TJ survivor who hasn’t been himself for a couple seasons. The new medium-risk, high-reward move is the signing of Joakim Soria, who had his surgery in early April and missed the entire 2012 season. Soria was roughly as valuable from 2007-2010 as Nathan was last season, and the Rangers are banking on that version of Soria resurfacing. The Royals version didn’t really get groundballs, so he’s not the best fit for Arlington, but racking up strikeouts and limiting walks plays in any park. If he comes back as a reasonable facsimile of his former self, he can set up for Nathan next season and reclaim the ninth inning in 2014. The Royals have so many hard-throwing 20-somethings under team control in KC that they’ll hardly notice he’s not there.

Because he hasn’t been on a mound since the surgery, because it was his second such surgery, and maybe because he doesn’t have Nathan’s long history of success, Soria settled for something in the $8-9 million range for 2013 and 2014 combined—roughly what his option for 2013 alone would have paid him had he stayed healthy. At that price, even if Soria misses some of next season and looks rusty when he returns, he can earn most of the total in 2014.

With Koji Uehara and Mike Adams on the free-agent market and Alexi Ogando re-becoming a starter, the Rangers had some bullpen holes to fill. With the signing of Soria, they’ve taken the first step toward filling them.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

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