Thursday, January 6, 2011
Updated: January 7, 3:03 AM ET
Boras: Rafael Soriano open to setup
By Andrew Marchand
Free-agent closer Rafael Soriano led the majors in saves last year, but he would consider being a setup man for one team in baseball -- the New York Yankees.
"That door is open for a number of different reasons," Soriano's agent, Scott Boras, told ESPNNewYork.com.
The possibility of putting together a shutdown bullpen by pairing Soriano in the eighth inning with closer Mariano Rivera could be an alternative plan for the Yankees after failing to lure Cliff Lee to the Bronx.
The Yankees could aggressively go after Soriano if Andy Pettitte decides to retire, or even in conjunction with Pettitte returning. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman would likely have to pay Soriano closer money even though he would be in a setup position.
After failing to sign Lee, Cashman has said the Yankees' budget is in the $170 million range, which would seem to give them room to add both Pettitte and Soriano.
Cashman has preached "patience" and may choose to bank the money for a trade later in the year that would then push the payroll closer to the $200 million mark.
On Thursday, Cashman said he wouldn't classify the Yankees' level of interest in Soriano. He also said he had no update on Pettitte's decision.
Boras declined to go into details about which other teams were interested in Soriano or to say where talks stood with the Yankees.
Clearly, though, Soriano is willing to take a lesser role with the idea that he will be paid like a closer and will have a chance to win a title, while becoming the Yankees' heir apparent to Rivera. Rivera will turn 43 when his just-signed two-year deal expires. Soriano just turned 31.
"I don't think there is a team in baseball where he could be asked to be a setup guy other than the Yankees," Boras said.
Boras said he and Soriano have discussed the possibility of the Yankees, adding he goes over each and every team with his free agents.
"It is a different scenario," Boras said.
As accomplished as Soriano is, Boras -- delving further into the "different reasons" Soriano would consider the Yankees -- thinks that learning from arguably the greatest closer of all time would have added appeal.
"There is also a value in playing with Mariano Rivera," Boras said.
The Yankees saw first-hand what Soriano can do last season as he was the difference-maker that allowed the Tampa Bay Rays to win the AL East.
After missing out on Lee and waiting on Pettitte, the Yankees' current starting rotation consists of CC Sabathia, coming off knee surgery; A.J. Burnett, following a 10-15 season; Phil Hughes, who was an All-Star last year; inexperienced Ivan Nova and journeyman Sergio Mitre.
The Yankees have a load of starting pitching prospects, but they won't know until spring training if any are ready for the big leagues.
As the Yankees are currently constituted, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson would be the leading candidates to set up for Rivera.
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.