This is Cashman last week:
“I will not lose our No. 1 draft pick. I would have for Cliff Lee. I won’t lose our No. 1 draft pick for anyone else.”
|Rafael Soriano had 45 saves last|
season for Tampa Bay; now he'll
set up Mariano Rivera.
Beyond the inherent untrustworthiness of general managers, I draw two inferences from this move:
- The Yankees don't think Andy Pettitte will return
- The Yankees have become another organization overpaying for established relief pitching.
Cashman had money set aside for the starting rotation. He expected to land Lee; he waited for Pettitte. Lee is gone, and Pettitte remains quasi-retired. He surveyed the market of starting pitchers, didn't like what he sees, and opted to spend on his bullpen instead.
Soriano is certainly a quality arm. A 1.73 ERA and a 0.802 WHIP ain't hay. He's also had multiple arm surgeries, is on the wrong side of 30, and carried a steep price, both in salary (three years, $35 million is the reported figure, although some of that, perhaps a majority of it, could be player options) and in the opportunity cost of the lost draft pick.
Soirano is going to get big-time closer money to pitch the eighth inning, and even for big-time closers, that's marketplace silliness. I've reckoned the Tigers, Dodgers and White Sox overspent on set-up men this winter already, but Soriano will essentially make what Joaquin Benoit, Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain are to pull in combined.
Relief pitching isn't sufficiently difficult to find/create to justify that kind of spending.