January 22, 2013
The Keeper Reaper
Relievers for 1/22/13
Rafael Soriano | Nationals
The Nationals aren’t shy about padding an area of the roster that’s already deep, apparently. To the surprise of many, yours truly included, the Nats inked Rafael Soriano to a two-year, $28 million deal last week despite the presence of high-leverage relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Interestingly, General Manager Mike Rizzo wasn’t coy about Soriano’s role: the right-hander, who spent the past two years with the Yankees, was named Washington’s closer, presumably leaving Storen and Clippard to duke it out for the seventh and eighth innings.
Boasting a tidy resume and already anointed Washington’s stopper, it’s pretty tough to argue Soriano’s inclusion among the top half of closers in MLB. Even accounting for the fact that last year’s 2.26 ERA was a bit on the lucky side (3.27 FIP), Raf-Sor is still a very solid closer option for fantasy owners; he’s coming off a 2012 season in which he posted solid strikeout and walk rates of 9.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9, respectively, while pitching in the tough AL East and its mostly hitter-friendly ballparks.
There are, however, some very reasonable doubts at play that should give us fantasy types pause. Obviously, Soriano is no up-and-comer as he readies for his age-33 season. There’s not any particular reason to expect a sharp age-related decline—if anything, 2012 was a nice rebound year after 2011 was mostly derailed by injuries—but the clock is ticking. Further, Soriano is no stranger to injury, having missed substantial chunks of several seasons due to various shoulder and elbow maladies, most recently just two seasons ago. And finally, the presence of both Storen and Clippard means that Soriano’s job could pretty easily be snatched away should he slump or suffer an injury.
That’s a lot of red flags for a guy who just signed for a heap of cash. But therein lies the rub—if he’s healthy, you have to think the Nats will give Soriano ample opportunity to retain the ninth-inning job in order to justify giving him all that money. The bottom line for fantasy owners is this: it’s not crazy to invest aggressively in Soriano considering his ability and the Nats’ faith in him, but any practical evaluation has to bake in some very real risk factors.
Drew Storen | Nationals (Holds leagues)