Sept. 15, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano (29) gestures after winning the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Yankees won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY SportsFor the first time in a long time when you look at Toronto Blue Jays you see a lot more bright spots than holes.
Sometimes those bright spots don’t shine hard enough to blind you from the holes.
The Blue Jays don’t have a bona fide closer.
Casey Janssen was outstanding as a closer last season but he’s never done it for a full season before. If you believe in “performing under pressure” then he’s also never had to save games when it mattered. Every game will matter for the Jays next season.
Sergio Santos is hoping to be ready by Opening Day but he is coming back from shoulder surgery and hasn’t seen big league action since last April.
It’s because of this that the Jays fan base is saying they should try to sign free agent closer Rafael Soriano.
Soriano would be a great pick up. He knows a thing or two about closing out games having saved 45 and 42 games in 2010 and 2012. He was the Yankees set up guy in 2011 because of course they have Mariano Rivera.
Baseball contracts are so big these days that relievers make as much money or more than position players. Rafael Soriano OPTED OUT of a contract that would have GUARANTEED him 14 million in 2012. So he’d probably ask the Blue Jays to pay him that much for a 1 year contract or pay him even bigger money with a 3 or 4 year deal.
To put that type of money into perspective Jose Bautista is the only player on the Blue Jays entire roster that will make 14 million in 2013. In addition to making Soriano the co-highest paid player on the team in 2013 the Blue Jays would also have to forfeit a draft pick just to sign him.
The Blue Jays also need as much payroll flexibility as possible if they need to make moves at the trade deadline.
You also got to know your GM. Don’t let the Blue Jays having a payroll over 100 million fool you. Alex Anthopoulos is allergic to free agency. The biggest free agent contract he’s ever given out was to Melky Cabrera at 2 years 16 million. It wouldn’t be his style to sign a big free agent closer.
Closing out games has been such a disaster for the Jays in recent years that it’s easy to forget that you don’t need an expensive famous name pitching the 9th like Casey Janssen showed last season.
Usually if teams scout really well they can find somebody they think can close. Last season The LA Angels got Ernesto Frieri in what seemed like a nothing trade with the San Diego Padres and he turned out to be a great closer for them. The Rays took a chance signing Fernando Rodney last offseason and he was a great closer for them.
Even if Janssen or Santos don’t take the role and run with it or the Blue Jays don’t acquire a closer they might have a closer already waiting on the roster. Last season Steve Delabar had a strikeout rate of 14.1 per 9 innings after he got traded to the Blue Jays. His debut in the big leagues was just in September of 2011 and so far his career strikeout per 9 is over 11. With that kind of strikeout numbers whoever the Blue Jays closer is on Opening Day could just be keeping the spot warm for Delabar if he keeps it up.
Having someone that can close out games is important. It’s just not worth 14 million dollars and a draft pick when you can find someone to do it for a lot less.