Yesterday, on the opening day of the Winter Meetings, the Rangers made a small, albeit impact signing, inking reliever Joakim Soria, 28, to a two-year contract with reports of an option for year three. The total dollar figure runs in the $8M range, and terms are undisclosed on the option year. If I had to guess, based off the $4M AAV figure from the initial two seasons, you can probably expect it to run in the $5.5M-$7.5M range.
Of course, with any contract, no matter how cheap or slam-dunk it appears to be on the surface, there is always some inherent risk. With Soria, who missed nearly all of 2012 due to his second Tommy John procedure, that risk could certainly magnify. However, with the money two other relievers, Brandon League (LAD) and Jonathon Broxton (CIN) have recently hauled in (3 years and $21M), the small figure Soria commands looks like a steal that should add substantial surplus value through 2014, and potentially 2015 if he comes back to full health and regains his former closer dominance.
Although right-handed, Soria has acted as a late-inning terror against left-handed hitting, holding lefties to an anemic .202/.266/.292 triple slash line over the duration of his career. One cause for concern, if we’re looking to nitpick, is that he’s not a pitcher of the ground ball variety (42.5% GB rate), which doesn’t figure to play particularly well in Arlington, but his exceptional strikeout rate (career 9.73/9 IP) and walks rate (2.48/9 IP) tend to play well no matter what the venue is.
All told, Soria isn’t expected to be ready to pitch right out of the gate in 2013, and most figure he’ll likely continue rehabbing through Spring Training into April and possibly May. With such a small sample of pitchers and their variable effectiveness after a 2nd TJ surgery, I’m not sure what exactly we should expect from Soria in 2013. This signing screams value, so it should be geared more towards his control and effectiveness in 2014 and ’15.