Tampa added Rafael Soriano to their depleted bullpen after acquiring the former Braves’ closer in a trade this week.
This deal/signing won’t get the Rays any closer to the World Series in 2010.
What it does do, is gives the Rays a lynchpin for their bullpen. Instead of hanging on two aging, injury prone veterans for the most important inning of a game, they now have a 30 year old who held is own as the (most of 2009) closer for the Braves.
Of course, pitching for the Braves against the NL LEast isn’t quite the same as having to face the continuously reloaded Yankees and Red Sox 18-19 times each season, but it’s still an upgrade.
The cost for the Rays was the best part here. Aside from signing Soriano to a 1 year contract (he was arb-eligible), all it cost was an ineffective, mop up guy named Jesse Chavez. Chavez, as you may (or may not) know, was the player the Rays got back from Pittsburgh when Iwamura was sent packing in November.
Chavez held a 4+ ERA for the Pirates, not bad for a team with little to no future for the last 20 years, and will likely hold a similar position for the Braves.
In essence then, this trade really becomes (for the Rays anyway) Iwamura for Soriano. I do believe it helps the Rays pick up a few more wins, but again it’s not enough to launch into the 2010 World Series.
On the Braves side, it made complete sense. The Braves underestimated their hand and guessed totally wrong on Soriano’s intent for arbitration. So after signing Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, Soriano became expendable. Either that or they could have flipped Wagner or Saito.
What I see is the Braves potentially running into the EXACT same problems the Rays had last year because of this deal. Instead of having a 30 year old who’s done the job and did it pretty well, Atlanta is opting for 2 guys on the wrong side of 30 as the end of the night guys.
If Wagner is healthy and throws like he did for the Red Sox, the Braves survive and stay in the penant race, if Wagner breaks down anytime before June, Braves fans can start looking ahead to 2011.