Joakim Soria has no problem pitching in a setup role
The market for free agent relief pitching is beginning to move and the prices for such pitchers is also rising at a similar pace, thanks to reported deals for Darren O’Day (four-years, $31 million with the Orioles) and Ryan Madson (three-years, $22 million).
That could have implications on the Mets search for a premium reliever, as they’ve reportedly shown interest in signing Joakim Soria this winter.
But there’s been speculation throughout the industry Soria, 31, would prefer to close and not bridge the gap to the closer for his new team.
But that is not at all the case, according to Mike Bernadino of the Pioneer Press.
“If he’s got to be an eighth-inning guy, he’s got no problem with that,” his agent Oscar Suarez told Bernadino, “as long as he’s paid accordingly.”
Adding someone like Soria would give the Mets three quality right-handed pitchers in their bullpen capable of closing. That could be significant, as Familia was arguably overworked in his first season as the club’s closer, and having flexibility in the ninth inning would unquestionably allow them to spread the wealth as needed.
Soria, 31, was traded from the Tigers to the Pirates ahead of the trade deadline in 2015, meaning he is not tied to compensation in the 2016 draft. He was solid for the Tigers in 43 games before being traded, going 3-1 with a 2.85 ERA with 23 saves, allowing only 32 hits and 11 walks with 36 strikeouts in 41 innings. But as Mark Melancon’s setup man in Pittsburgh, Soria had a 2.03 ERA in 29 games, allowing only 23 hits and eight walks with 28 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.
Soria has many suitors, and the Mets face some stiff competition if they intend to procure the 31-year-old right-handed reliever.
An early suitor for Soria’s services was the Tigers, who traded him to the Pirates mid-year. And according to Schmehl, the Tigers were attempting to negotiate a two-year deal with the free agent reliever, but he turned that deal down, the two sides never agreed to a contract, and Detroit acquired RHP Francisco Rodriguez instead.
Soria is looking for a deal in the range of three years and $27 million, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN, and now that Madson has agreed to a three-year deal, Soria should have little trouble finding what he wants.
It remains to be seen if the Mets will enter that territory for a free agent reliever. They have not committed to more than one year for a reliever since the failed two-year contract with Frank Francisco before the 2012 season.
But if the Mets want to procure a premium free agent reliever – such as Soria – they’re clearly going to have to deviate from that strategy and consider a multi-year proposal for what they’re looking for.