The 2014 offseason was one to remember. It signified that both Chicago teams were making serious efforts to upgrade their teams; served as a stage for A.J. Preller to announce himself to the baseball world; and signaled that relievers, not just closers, were now going to make serious money going forward.
According to Jon Heyman, Rafael Soriano may soon be set to cash in, as the Tigers and Mariners are taking a serious look at the former Nationals closer. Soriano struggled mightily in the second half of 2014, but given his track record, deserves another shot. From 2012-2014, Soriano produced FIP's of .332/.365/.308, and can likely help a team in need of bullpen help.
Which teams are looking at Soriano?
The Tigers are the current front runner to land Soriano. Logically this makes perfect sense, as they recently learned that Joe Nathan would be out for the rest of the season with a torn UCL. Former set up man Joakim Soria has taken over the 9th inning role, and is doing well thus far.
The Tigers were counting on Nathan's return however, and now have an open bullpen spot to fill for the rest of the season. They may choose to wait and see how Bruce Rondon progresses as he's already started throwing bullpens.
Bruce Rondon will throw a 20-pitch bullpen session today in Lakeland. He's progressing incrementally in mound sessions.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) April 23, 2015
Rondon would be a much cheaper option than Soriano, and if healthy has one of the most electric fastballs in the game. He was set to inherit the closer role a couple seasons ago, before dealing with injury, and could step in to fill Nathan's roster spot.
The Mariners seem to make sense as their current closer, Fernando Rodney, has an atrocious ERA of 8.53. However his peripherals suggest that he's performed much better than his ERA makes him look. As of today, his FIP sits at 3.05, while his SIERA is slightly higher at 3.89.
The Mariners currently have the 3rd best reliever FIP in the AL, and realistically don't need Soriano. Rodney has thrown just 6.1 innings this year, and deserves more time to settle down.
Other possible fits for Soriano
Heyman also notes that the Pirates, Indians, and Dodgers are possible fits for Soriano. Mark Melancon has not pitched well in 2015, and has lost 2.5 MPH off his four-seam, raising concerns about his health. The Indians have the 14th worst FIP in the AL, and could desperately use some help moving forward.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, have an amazing bullpen and according to fWAR have been the most valuable group so far. Andrew Friedman and his team have done an incredible job rebuilding the bullpen, and if they can find a way to get better, would likely pull the trigger.
Given that Scott Boras is Soriano's agent, the Pirates and Indians may not be able to afford to add the reliever due to payroll limitations. The Tigers are the clear favorite, but there doesn't seem to be a timetable for when Soriano will sign.