"A few teams" closing in on Rafael Soriano

Somebody may be getting closer to closing a deal on Rafael Soriano.

Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo reports superagent Scott Boras told him "a few teams" are getting closer to a number he has in mind for his free agent righty, who has been waiting in the Dominican Republic for the phone to ring ever since his roller coaster season with the Nationals derailed last year.

The former All-Star will bank $28 million from the Washington Nationals for two season's work by the time their last deferred payment is made in 2025. He saved 42 games for them in 2013, and came roaring out of the gate once again in the first half of 2014, posting an 0.97 ERA while saving 22 more. But after the All-Star break he was a different pitcher; throwing to a 6.48 ERA and blowing seven saves, the most of his eleven-year career. The velo separation between his fastball and secondary pitches shrank, his flyball and hard-hit rates spiked, and his last 18 appearances were like a recurring nightmare for Nats fans as they watched 13 runs cross the plate in 16 2/3 innings at a 7.02 ERA clip. He lost the closer job to Drew Storen; the team declined his $14 million option; and scouts were telling baseball writers his stuff had left him.

Last month, it had been reported the Minnesota Twins and the Seattle Mariners had made some preliminary inquiries, and the ever-helpful Boras had suggested the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers would be "logical suitors" -- but there have still been no serious discussions, for if there had been, Boras would be trumpeting it every hour on the hour. So at this point it would appear Boras drastically overvalued the market for closers in general and his 35-year-old client in particular, and is now fielding reasonable offers that will allow Soriano to pitch regularly again and rebuild his value.

Soriano's pedigree of 191 saves over the last six years for the Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees and Washington Nationals; his final 2014 aggregate 3.19 ERA coupled with a 59/19 K/BB ratio; and some encouraging secondary metrics over 62 innings -- a 3.08 FIP and a 119 ERA+ -- suggest he shouldn't have a problem finding someone to do just that, though not necessarily as a closer; assuming Boras is willing to lighten up a little on the superagent game and allow Soriano the chance to see if he can still play his.

Because one thing's for sure: he's not becoming a better pitcher waiting by the phone -- and the last game he pitched was over seven months ago.

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