What is the market for Rafael Soriano?

Cubs-BravesHere’s what I do know. Rafael Soriano opted to accept arbitration from the Atlanta Braves, a figure that will more then likely fall at $8 million. He made $6.5 million last season and is coming off a career best season in which he saved 27 games and had a 2.97 ERA to go along with a 1.06 WHIP.

The Braves figuring that both Soriano and fellow free agent to be Mike Gonzalez were leaving town went ahead and signed Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito to large contracts. It was seen as the team taking an aggressive approach to fix an area that would be weakened by the loss of it’s two key components.

Then a strange thing happened. Rafael Soriano, who never really had any contract talks with the Braves, accepted arbitration and not only were the Braves out of the draft picks he’d of netted them when he signed with another team but they were also suddenly stuck with an expensive player who they have little need anymore.

Here’s something else I know. Other clubs weren’t interested enough in Soriano to offer him a large contract that spanned multiple seasons.

Soriano could be a $8 million pitcher but now that he’s only under control for one season his value may be replenished some. Buster Olney reports that the Braves are also looking for a “solid return” to go along with unloading all of his salary.

No one is going to take all of Soriano’s salary and then give up players to else a gamble the Braves took on a player in hopes of getting more draft picks.

Early reports had Boston, New York, Tampa bay, Houston, Baltimore and the Los Angeles Angels interested.

Currently it’s not believed by anyone on the internet that the Braves want to keep Soriano and if that’s the case their best bet may be one of two options. The Braves could trade Soriano for a low cost bench player or a lower minor league prospect. The other option would be to contact a team that has an outfielder the team could take off their hands and in turn send the closer their way. While I’m just throwing names out there right now it would come as little surprise to me to see Soriano and Milton Bradley linked together in the next two hours.

Of course the Braves are also trying desperately to unload Derek Lowe who has 3 years and $45 million left on his contract. They’ve even been telling teams at the winter meetings that they’d be willing to eat part of his contract.

The trade of Soriano or Lower (or even Javier Vazquez) has no definite order. One does not need to happen first but the result of the first transaction likely will have a large impact on the direction of the second. With the winter meetings in full swing, and the market for relief options picking up news on Soriano and the Braves figure to be aplenty until something is resolved.