Tigers to pick up Joakim Soria’s option
The Tigers have a lot of sorting out to do with their bullpen. The simplest part, Joakim Soria’s contract option for 2015, is now out of the way. The team has decided to pick up Soria’s $7 million option, MLB.com has learned, thus keeping Soria off the free-agent market and in its bullpen mix.
Anthony Fenech first reported the move Friday morning. The Tigers have not confirmed, but are expected to make an official announcement later Friday.
The Tigers had until shortly after the World Series to make the move, but the decision had been expected for the past couple weeks. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, while not announcing a decision earlier this month, strongly hinted at it during his end-of-season media session, saying they acquired Soria from Texas in July with next season in mind, as well as this one.
A left oblique strain in early August threw a wrench into Soria’s 2014 impact. He returned a month later, but suffered from a lack of a set role, working everywhere from seventh-inning setup to fill-in closer on days the Tigers rested Joe Nathan. Soria performed well in September, allowing a run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings, but struggled mightily in two Division Series appearances at Baltimore.
The Tigers traded two of their top prospects, right-handed starter Jake Thompson and potential future closer Corey Knebel, to acquire Soria from Texas on July 23. To decline the option would’ve meant giving up that talent for a contribution that amounted to -0.1 Wins Above Replacement this year. By contrast, Jason Frasor had a 0.2 WAR for Kansas City after joining the Royals in early July, also from Texas.
Soria is expected to serve as Detroit’s eighth-inning setup man next season, a role Joba Chamberlain handled for most of this past season. Chamberlain is a free agent. Bruce Rondon, who was supposed to handle setup work last year, is expected to be ready for Spring Training after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, but the hard-throwing 23-year-old has just 30 appearances in his Major League career.