Will Soriano accept arbitration?
Welcome to Indianapolis where over the past 24 hours, I’ve gained the sense that Rafael Soriano has actually become more popular than Peyton Manning.
As I walked through the hotel lobby last night, friends and colleagues chose to replace “hello” with “what is going to happen if Soriano accepts arbitration?”
Over the past 48 hours, I haven’t changed my belief that Soriano will ultimately decline this non-guaranteed, one-year contract that could place him in a role where he’s eating up the innings ahead of Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito.
But the market might be indicating that Soriano needs to at least continue weighing this alternative until tonight’s 11:59 p.m. ET deadline arrives.
Some have asked wouldn’t Bobby Cox love the chance to have a three-headed monster in his bullpen? The simple answer is yes, but not at the expense of entering a second consecutive season with the team’s offensive needs not addressed in the originally projected manner.
If Soriano does accept this one-year offer that would be worth $6.5 to $7 million, the Braves would have to alter their focus in regards to the players they are seeking to play first base and the outfield.
The Braves don’t think Soriano would be awarded more than $6.5 million, which would provide him just a slight raise. He made $6.1 million this past season while racking up credentials that seemingly were going to make him a hot commodity on the free-agent market.
With Jason Heyward waiting in the wings as an economical option to fill the final outfield spot, this might not prove to be a debiliating decision. But it’s obvious the Braves would at least like to enter Spring Training with the intent to allow Heyward to make them decide whether he’s Major League ready.
By accepting this arbitration offer, Soriano would gain a non-guaranteed contract that sets up the possibility that he could be released during Spring Training. But there would have to be just cause to make this move.
It seems more likely that the Braves would look to trade Soriano if he were to accept this offer.
This potential development provides an opportunity for debate throughout this first day of the Winter Meetings. If necessary, by the end of the night we’ll be able to discuss how the Braves definitely plan to deal with the consequences.
Stay tuned today and throughout the week for regular updates. You can also follow me on Twitter @mllbbowman.