Time Has Come For the Royals to Trade Soria
Tuesday November 15, 2011
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: With the free agency season in full swing, some teams may not be happy with the sticker prices on available players. Especially when it comes to pitching, including closers. Jonathan Papelbon recently grabbed $50 million from the Phillies and reports have Ryan Madson looking at a deal in the $40 million range. These figures make existing closers signed to reasonable deals an attractive trade commodity, despite the amount of available relief pitchers on the market. There may be a quantity of closers, but certainly not quality. Outside of Mariano Rivera and Papelbon, there are few sure-fire closers currently in baseball. Enter Joakim Soria of the Kansas City Royals.
A 2-time All-Star, Soria has put up some impressive numbers in his 5 seasons in Kansas City. Two seasons of 40+ saves, Soria has a career 2.40 ERA and 1.043 WHIP. Soria will only be 28 next year and could theoretically be a building block for the next few seasons in Kansas City. However, closers are generally considered to be foundational players. Soria is no exception. 2011 was his most difficult seasons in the majors, as he did save 28 games but put up a 4.03 ERA and 1.276 WHIP (all career worsts). Soria is signed for $6 million this coming season and has 2 more team options at roughly $8 million per season. The Royals are faced with a decision: hold onto their star closer, or cash in while his market is at its peak.
The Royals are on the way up. No doubt about it. Mike Moustakas, Erik Hosmer, Wil Myers, John Lamb and company are expected to come together at the same time to make the Royals the next powerhouse squad. By my estimation, they should be World Series contenders by 2015. But with a couple of more seasons of growing pains ahead, can they afford the luxury of Soria? My argument is no. Soria’s salary in 2012 is still considered a “deal”, but from 2013 go-forward at $8 million, the Royals would be wise to spend their salary dollars in other areas. There are still holes to fill on the squad, including 1-2 more bats and starting pitching. The team will also need to lock up some of its young star players early to avoid unaffordable contract demands down the road. Joakim Soria can bring back a nice haul to fill needs and stock the team for a future championship. The team needs to be realistic of where it is today, where it is going in the future and the players it needs to get there.
The Royals also have options to replace Soria. Aaron Crow (if he is not moved into the rotation) and Tim Collins could all get a shot. Luke Hochevar, who has been hot/cold during his career in the rotation may eventually settle into the bullpen. Options are there. Heck, the Royals plunked Soria from the Rule-5 draft and transformed him from a Padres outcast into a star closer. With the risk of injury and ineffectiveness always hanging over closers, the Royals may be gambling if they hang onto Soria much longer. Another season like 2011 could severely damage his trade value, while he could bring in a nice crop of 2-3 prospects if traded this offseason. The Royals need to do some soul-searching and realize that Soria is worth more in a trade than on their roster.
Teams will surely line-up if Joakim Soria is made available. The Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Angels, Tigers, Rangers, Nationals and Cardinals would all surely inquire as to his availability. From all reports, the Yankees and Blue Jays are the strongest contenders to land the Royals closer. Don’t get me wrong- I am a Joakim Soria fan. I believe the kid is immensely talented and has the talent and determination to remain a top MLB closer for another decade (health permitting). But on a losing ballclub that is rebuilding, Joakim Soria is a luxury that the Royals simply cannot afford. If the team has to trade a Moustakas or Hosmer given their budget but retain Soria, that would be a big mistake in my estimation. The team needs to build for 2015- not 2012. This offseason represents a golden opportunity for the Royals to continue to replenish its roster and fill more holes. The Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez was that type of step in the right direction. If Melky was a Prince, it is time for the Royals to flip their King for a pair of Wild Cards. It could prove to be their ultimate winning hand.
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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Posted on November 15, 2011, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged baseball, bell, boras, closer, halladay, hamels, lee, madson, mlb, nathan, papelbon, phillies, redsox, rivera, rodriguez, royals, saves, soria, worldseries, yankees. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.