In a recent report from Jon Heyman, the Royals might consider moving their lone All-Star representative in closer Joakim Soria. Specifically, in the report, Heyman writes:
According to one GM, he's been told specifically that ace pitcher Zack Greinke and productive hitter Billy Butler are unavailable (no surprise there) raising the issue of whether they'd consider moving excellent closer Joakim Soria, who has 20 saves and a 2.43 ERA. They were unwilling to do so last year, so the guess is, it will be very difficult to pry him from Kansas City. "In their position, they'd probably move (Soria),'' one competing GM said.
Now, it's important to note that so much conjecture makes it way into the public light this time of year (and really all year long given the popularity of rumors in the sporting world). But with baseball's trading deadline upon us, it only gets worse. Several Royals -- both position players and pitchers -- will be thrown on various teams, with some hearing their names called more than others. But it's interesting given Soria's recent All-Star designation that his name might be bandied about.
Simply put, Soria has been amazing ever since he first arrived in Kansas City. Over the last four seasons, he's averaged just over 10 K/9 and has 111 career saves, all with the Royals. His ERA in that time? 2.16. This year the home run numbers are up just a tad, but with the rest of his stats in line with his career norms, why would the Royals even consider moving their closer when the great ones seem so hard to come by?
That's the same question the Padres are asking themselves now, who have Heath Bell under contract and are the NL version of the Royals with a closer that multiple other teams would wrestle them for. Some front offices undervalue the roles within a bullpen and believe that a few guys could actually handle the role and that closers are overvalued (i.e. Billy Beane in Oakland). But there's a reason these guys get paid the big bucks and that names like Mariano Rivera makes the opposing team lower their heads in the dugout once he's in. The reason being that the game is probably over.
Perhaps the thing that would keep the Royals from moving Soria the most is his incredible contract. This year, he's making $3 million, an absolute steal within the ranks of other good-to-great closers. He's also signed for next year for only $4 million and club options exist through 2014, with escalating salaries of $6, $8 and $8.75 million each. Even at contract's end, Soria will probably still be nowhere near the top five. Want proof? Rivera makes $15 mill. Brad Lidge: $12.5. K-Rod, Joe Nathan, Francisco Cordero, Billy Wager and Kerry Wood all make over $10 million a year.
This allows the Royals to ask for the farm in return for a talent like Soria. There's simply no need to trade him, as the Royals will have one of the best closers in the American League (or even the majors) for below market value for the next four years. That's an asset you definitely hold onto and, if you have to cash it in at some point, you make sure you make the other person pay.