Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has done a fine job with the Washington Nationals. He is one of the better GMs in baseball.
His latest move is an interesting one. He signed reliever Rafael Soriano a two-year, $28 million deal with a $14 million vesting option for a third year.
The 33-year-old Soriano led the AL with 45 saves in 2010 while pitching for the Rays. He recorded 42 saves for the Yankees last year while filling in for an injured Mariano Rivera.
The move is interesting because the Nats already have two relievers, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, who can close games — and by signing Soriano, the Nats are surrendering their 2013 first-round draft pick because the Yankees extended Soriano a qualifying offer.
When you have a team that won 98 games the previous year like Rizzo does, you think less about losing first-round picks and more about how to sure about weaknesses to win a World Series.
But you also have to calculate need. You’re not going to give up that first-rounder to improve an area of your team that already is strong enough.
Obviously, the Nats, a team that won 98 games last year and presumably will have ace Stephen Strasburg for a full year in 2013, felt their bullpen was enough of a weakness to surrender a valuable first-round pick.
But was the bullpen that much of a weakness?
Washington’s pen imploded in the playoffs. In Game 5 of the ALDS against the Cardinals, Storen surrendered four runs in the ninth inning to send the Nats to a 9-7 loss and 3-2 series loss.
But Washington’s bullpen ranked seventh in the majors with a 3.23 ERA and tied for fourth with 51 saves last year. And all that was with Storen out injured the first three and a half months.
Again, it’s all about calculating need. Maybe this move will put the Nationals over the top.