Rafael Soriano
Rafael Soriano
40-Year-Old PitcherRP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2020 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for Rafael Soriano in 2020. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs in June of 2015.
PFree Agent  
March 17, 2016
Soriano will retire after 14 major league seasons, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports.
ANALYSIS
Soriano pitched in just 5.2 MLB innings last year with a 6.35 ERA as he looked washed up at 35 years old. Overall, though, Soriano had a stellar career, finishing with 207 saves and a 2.89 ERA (144 ERA+) in 636.1 innings. He came up as a 22-year-old with the Mariners in 2002 and enjoyed stints with Atlanta, Tampa Bay, the Yankees and Washington before his brief last season with the Cubs.
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On first glance, Soriano's season seemed fairly in keeping with the rest of his Nationals' tenure. He collected 32 saves, posted solid ratios and even saw his K/9 rate return to almost 9.0. His splits tell the real tale, though: 0.97 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in the first half, 6.48 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in the second; 0.24 HR/9 and .448 OPS allowed in the first half, 1.08 HR/9 and .864 OPS allowed in the second; a head-scratching All-Star snub in the first half, then left off the postseason roster in the second. Mechanical issues that sabotaged his slider were the main culprit, but when Drew Storen replaced him as the Nats' closer down the stretch it seemed clear that Soriano would be looking for a new address in 2015. If he gets his breaking pitch under control again he could still have some value, but it will likely have to come in a setup role.
For the third time in four seasons Soriano picked up 40-plus saves, but there's also a reason he accomplished that feat for three different teams. A career-worst 6.9 K/9 rate and declining velocity on his fastball are glaring warning signs, and while usage is still the most important predictor of closer value, the Nationals have other options in the bullpen to take over ninth-inning duties if Soriano's performance degrades any further. Paying top dollar for a closer on draft day should provide plenty of options safer than Soriano.
Soriano did a great job stepping in when Mariano Rivera went down, solidifying the ninth inning for the Yankees and putting up some of the best numbers of his career. Soriano was extremely consistent, allowing a .646 OPS with 20 saves in the first half of the season, and a .630 OPS with 22 saves over the second half. With Rivera returning in 2013, however, Soriano declined his player option, allowing him move on to another team where he can be assured of a closing job. After an extended stretch where he went unsigned, that team ended up being the Nationals, who inked him to a two-year deal in January. The presumption is that he'll close ahead of Drew Storen.
After leading the American League in saves in 2010, Soriano signed a big deal with the Yanks to set up Mariano Rivera, and perhaps eventually succeed him. All that changed when Soriano got off to a horrific start, then missed nearly three months with an elbow injury. Soriano pitched decently upon his return, going 1-2 with a save, 13 holds and a 3.33 ERA over the last few months of the season, but he's clearly been passed up in the bullpen hierarchy by David Robertson, and Soriano will likely slot in as the Yankees' seventh-inning option in 2012. He's too far down the totem pole to have value, outside of deep leagues and leagues that count holds.
Soriano turned in a spectacular season for the Rays, recording a 1.73 ERA with a 0.802 WHIP (tops among closers). His 45 saves were good for third-best in the league, and he showed a maturity in his approach on the mound. His K/9IP rate dropped from 12.1 in 2009 to 8.2 last season, a stat fantasy owners did not want to see. However, he showed improvement as a real-life closer and improved his BB/9IP rate by more than one and improved his groundball percentage for the third straight season. Soriano kept the ball in the park, as shown by his career-low 0.58 HR/9IP. Basically, Soriano looked to simply get outs rather than trying to go for the strikeout against every batter. His fantasy value will take a big hit after he signed a three-year deal with the Yankees to move to a setup role for Mariano Rivera. Down the road, he could take over for Rivera when he retires, but Soriano can also opt out of the contract during any of the next two offseasons. He'll have somewhat higher value in keeper leagues as a result.
After an injury-plagued 2008 season, Soriano returned to his elite closer form with 27 saves and a strong 102:27 K:BB ratio in 75.2 innings last year. When healthy, Soriano strikes out about a batter an inning with great control - ideal for a closer. However, he carries significant injury risk as he missed much of 2008 with nerve-transposition elbow surgery and had Tommy John surgery in 2004. Still, if healthy he could be one of the top closers in the AL after signing with Tampa Bay.
Soriano looked poised to become one of the top closers in the National League, but struggled with injuries and it's not clear what his role will be for the Braves in 2009. He went on the DL early in April with a sore elbow and was never healthy all season. Soriano came off the DL several times after tests showed no structural problems with his elbow, but kept breaking down. He finally had nerve-transposition surgery in August, which also removed a bone spur. Soriano strikes out about a batter an inning with great control - ideal for a closer. If healthy next spring, he may be used in a set-up role or share closing duties with Mike Gonzalez.
Soriano will be Atlanta's closer next season after re-establishing himself as a dominant reliever in 2007. In his second full season back from Tommy John surgery, and after rebounding from an ugly concussion in 2006, Soriano saved nine games when Bob Wickman was injured and eventually took over the closer role. Soriano hits the mid 90s on the radar gun which helps him strike out nearly a batter per inning with outstanding control (70:15 K:BB ratio last year). He gave up too many home runs last year (12 overall, including a stretch of six home runs allowed in 19 innings), but that seems to be at odds with the rest of his career. Without much competition in the bullpen (unless Mike Gonzalez can return midseason from Tommy John surgery), it wouldn't be a surprise if Soriano becomes one of the best closers in the NL.
The Braves traded Horacio Ramirez for Soriano in the offseason and landed one of baseball's best set-up men. Soriano posted a 3:1 K:BB last season and allowed just 44 hits in 60 innings with a 2.25 ERA. He also stranded 27 of 39 inheritted runners as opposing batters hit just .204 against him. A line drive to the head ended Soriano's season in late August, but he is expected to make a full recovery. He laid to rest concern about his surgically repaired elbow last year, as well, as he consistently hit the mid-90s on the radar gun. If Bob Wickman goes down, Soriano likely will fill the void.
Soriano seems to have recovered satisfactorily from Tommy John surgery. In his first outing since May 2004, he consistently hit 95 mph in his September activation last year, easing concerns over his troubled elbow. After allowing a run each in his first two appearances, Soriano ended the season with five scoreless outings, striking out nine and walking one. He'll pitch in a set-up role this season, but if Eddie Guardado goes down, he could step into the closer's role. As long as he stays healthy, Soriano is the team's closer of the future. And a good one at that.
Soriano is expected to miss most, if not all, of 2005 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He is still considered the team's closer of the future, but has much to overcome before he returns to that level. The elbow injury stemmed from an oblique injury in spring from which he came back too soon. He had not fully healed and compensated with extra force on his elbow.
Soriano could be a great sleeper pick. In keeper leagues, he's definitely someone to hang onto. Signing Eddie Guardado allows the Mariners the freedom to trade troubled Freddy Garcia and move Soriano into the rotation, where he could thrive. Soriano has an upper-90s fastball, a hard slider and great control. Even if he stays in the bullpen, he'll valuable for ERA, WHIP, K and BB. He's a top-of-the-rotation starter waiting to happen.
Soriano will be given every chance in the world to be a starter in the Mariners' rotation this spring. What he can do with that opportunity is yet to be seen, but in his eight 2002 starts, he disappointed with a 5.10 ERA and an 0-3 record. Still, he had a great strikeout-to-walk ratio in the minors and should develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter at some point in the near future.
More Fantasy News
PToronto Blue Jays  
Personal
February 29, 2016
Soriano is not in camp yet because he and the Blue Jays are still working out some visa issues, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsbet reports.
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PToronto Blue Jays  
Personal
February 28, 2016
Soriano signed a minor league deal with a spring training invite with the Blue Jays on Sunday.
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PFree Agent  
Shoulder
September 5, 2015
Soriano was released by the Cubs on Saturday, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports.
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PChicago Cubs  
Shoulder
September 1, 2015
Soriano (shoulder) was activated from the 15-day DL and designated for assignment Tuesday.
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Rafael Soriano: (Shoulder) Joins Triple-A Iowa For Rehab Assignment
PChicago Cubs  
Shoulder
August 26, 2015
Soriano (shoulder) has joined Triple-A Iowa to begin a rehab assignment, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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