The interest in former all-star closer Rafael Soriano is growing. The team with perhaps the strongest interest to date is the Miami Marlins. Reports are that the Marlins have contacted Soriano’s agent Scott Boras about a possible deal between the two parties as reported by Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.
The veteran right-handed closer is the last big-name free agent leftover from the offseason still left on the market. The interest in him seemed scarce over the offseason after his former team the Washington Nationals cut ties with him. He had a stellar first half of the 2014 season by posting a sizzling 0.97 ERA across 37 innings pitched while saving 22 games. The second half for him was a completely different story as he plummeted to a dreadful 6.48 ERA across 25 innings pitched while only managing 10 saves throughout the rest of the season. He scuffled so bad that the Nats had to take his job as closer in order to better close out games. He was quickly cut loose after the 2014 season ended.
The interest in him being scarce is actually not a surprise as he has been rumored to have a toxic personality in the clubhouse. Team chemistry with any team is probably overrated to an extent but its always better to have a team that gets along and is cohesive than having a bad apple in the entire bunch that ruin the mix. There was also fear amongst executives that his stuff is no longer there and his abilities have declined due to him getting older. If the second half of 2014 rings true, then they couldn’t be more right about Soriano.
The Marlins’ interest in the veteran closer isn’t really a surprise. They had an incredibly busy offseason as they locked up some key young talent of their own and brought in some veteran talent as well in order to bolster the club’s roster and give them their best shot at contending for a postseason berth for the first time in practically a decade.
They entered the season with a dominant closer in right-hander Steve Cishek. He had a great track record of saving games before for the Marlins. He’s scuffled mightily though in the early season. Coming into the season he had converted 94 out of 108 save opportunities with the club so there wasn’t much reason to be worried. He’s blown three save opportunities thus far this season for the team. He’s pitching to a bloated 10.32 ERA with only 13 strikeouts and an alarming eight walks so far in the early season. He’s struggling so bad that the team is going to have to take away his closer responsibilities for the time-being. The side-armer is expected to see more work in the early innings now in hopes he can regain his former dominant identity. For now they are planning on using pitching matchup advantages to determine who the closer will be. Their in-house options consist of Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos and Bryan Morris. For now it seems like the Marlins will still be patient before rushing into anything but should these late-inning struggles continue then they may have no choice but to bring aboard the experienced Soriano in order to right the ship due to the enormous expectations they have placed among themselves for this season.
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