Chris Graham: $28 million?

baseball600Granted, Game 5 of the Division Series was tough, watching the bullpen that had been so good for so much of the 2012 season break down in the late innings as Washington’s World Series dreams floated into the ether. But … $28 million for two years for a closer whose fastball tops out at 92?

That’s called an overreaction, but such is life among those with Natitude these days. Rafael Soriano is your new closer, whether you want him to be or not.

Granted, Soriano knows how to close out games. He saved 42 for the New York Yankees in 2012 after Mariano Rivera went down early in the year, and he saved 45 for Tampa Bay in 2010 before moving to a setup role in front of Rivera the next season.

Also grant this – at 33, Soriano is on the decline. His average fastball, according to FanGraph.com, peaked at 94.6 mph in Atlanta in 2007. Last year, his average fastball was 92.2, pedestrian for a one-inning specialist.

Now, sure, Soriano is savvy, knows how to get guys out, still posted an impressive 9.2K/9IP ratio in 2012 – but all that says is he should have been paid $14 million last year, not for each of the next two years.

Soriano will end up becoming an effective late-inning guy for the Nats. Not sure if the late inning will be the ninth, necessarily, but …


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