Washington Nationals Sign Rafael Soriano To A Two-Year/$28M Deal: What's Next For The Nats?

Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

With the report this afternoon that the Washington Nationals had added free agent reliever Rafael Soriano on a 2-year/$28M dollar deal, speculation began about what happens next with the Nats? Do they stick with a strong right-hand heavy pen? Make a trade for a lefty?

A report by CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman back in late December that said the Washington Nationals were in on right-hander Mike Adams right up until the point he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies is a little more believable this afternoon. The CSNPhilly.com reporter wrote at the time that Adams' agent had spoken about the veteran reliever having, "... offers on the table for more guaranteed years and money," and, Mr. Seidman added, "One of those offers was from an NL East team, believed to be the Nationals."

Adams told reporters after signing that he had offers for, "... more guaranteed money elsewhere," but decided to join the Phillies after having narrowed the field to a choice between two teams:

"'There was an NL East team that was really in on it,' Adams admitted. 'It was a tough choice between the two, but from what I’ve heard from other players that have been in this organization, what they think about it, where I think it’s headed, that played a huge part into my decision.'"

Why, we wondered at the time, would the Nationals be trying to add another right-handed arm to a bullpen that already featured Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, both of whom have proven capable of closing at the major league level? A left-hander made sense for the Nationals, but another righty? Were the Nationals worried about Storen after his Game 5 struggles in the NLDS? Working on a deal that involved a reliever? Toward the end of the report, we wrote jokingly about what a story about the Nats being interested in adding a right-hander might mean:

"More importantly, with a report connecting the Nationals to a right-handed free agent reliever, how long before people start speculating about a potential match between 33-year-old free agent Rafael Soriano and the Nationals, especially since Soriano just happens to be represented by Scott Boras... And you know about the connection between Boras and the Nats... etc.... [Yawns]"

Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore took the idea of the Nationals signing Soriano a little more seriously in a January 6th article in which he considered the possibility of adding another right-hander to the mix in the nation's capital. While noting that there were plenty of reasons why it didn't make sense: like the high price Soriano was expected to command; and the 1st Round draft pick (29th overall) it would cost the Nationals since Soriano's previous employers (the New York Yankees) made a qualifying offer to the veteran reliever before he hit free agency, the WaPost reporter also explored why such a signing might make sense.

There were plenty of save opportunities to go around for a potential 100-win team. Davey Johnson likes to run A and B bullpens and Storen and Soriano as A-B closers would give the Nationals two first-rate ninth-inning options. "By adding Soriano," Mr. Kilgore wrote, "they would make their bullpen every bit as good, on paper, as the rest of their team. The bullpen is good, potentially very good, as it is. It could be excellent with Soriano."

The talk following reports this afternoon (by Yahoo!Sports.com's Jeff Passan among others) that the Nationals had actually gone out and signed Soriano, the 33-year-old, 11-year veteran to a 2-year/$28M dollar deal has focused mostly on what sort of action might follow the addition of Soriano to the already-strong D.C. bullpen?

Yahoo!Sports.com's Mr. Passan didn't entertain the idea that a trade could be next in his report on the signing, instead suggesting that the addition of Soriano bolsters the Nats' pen and gives, "Washington's bullpen depth to challenge the Atlanta Braves." No word from the Nationals yet on what the signing might mean for the team's offseason plans.

Already this winter, Washington's signed right-handed starter Dan Haren, acquired center fielder Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins in a deal for 2011 1st Round pick Alex Meyer (RHP) and brought first baseman Adam LaRoche back on another two-year deal. The re-signing of LaRoche put the Nationals in a position to entertain offers for OF/1B Michael Morse, who's a man without a position following the moves the Nats have made. Does D.C. GM Mike Rizzo have something else up his sleeve? Not many people saw the signing of Soriano coming... What's next for the Nationals?

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