The Washington Nationals introduced new closer Rafael Soriano to the nation's capital this afternoon after they inked the 33-year-old, 11-year-veteran to a 2-year/$28 million dollar deal earlier this week. Several hours later, 25-year-old Nats' Super Two reliever Drew Storen avoided arbitration and agreed to a 1-year/$2.5M dollar deal that includes up to $1M in performances bonuses the right-hander can earn. The announcement was made by Storen's representatives through their official Twitter account:
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo talked about what the future held for Storen this afternoon now that the Nationals have brought Soriano in to close. The '09 1st Round pick served as the team's primary closer when healthy since shortly after he made his MLB debut in early 2010. Storen missed the start of the past season after having elbow surgery and worked his way back, but his 2012 season ended with a rough Game 5 outing in the NLDS which saw the right-hander give up four runs by the St. Louis Cardinals after starting the inning with a 7-5 lead.
"Drew Storen is a closer," Rizzo said today, "He's going to be a closer. He's got closer stuff. He's got a closer's mentality. And by no means [was] the signing of Rafael Soriano based on one inning and one game at the end of the season. [Storen] is a young closer that was thrust into the closer's role as a very young man and a very young major leaguer. We feel that we benefit having [Soriano] on the club not only by pitching the ninth inning, but also by mentoring a good young potential closer in Drew Storen."
As for how Soriano, Storen and Tyler Clippard (who saved 32 games with Storen out last year) will be used in 2013, the Nats' GM said Thursday that, "One of them is going to close out the seventh, one will close out the eighth and one will finish the game in the ninth and we feel pretty good about that." With the bullpen they have and the manager they have, Rizzo said tonight he thought that there would be plenty of save opportunities for the Nats' relievers this season.
"With Davey Johnson, as manager, as we all know," Rizzo said, "He likes to use a 'Bullpen-A' and 'Bullpen-B', so [Soriano will be] going into Spring Training [as] our ninth inning guy, but that's not to say that other members of the bullpen aren't going to get opportunities to finish games. We hope to be in a save situation many times during the season and I think that this gives Davey some definite options to go to. If [Soriano] were to pitch several days in a row, he can got to another asset, another reliever. But suffice it to say that [Soriano] is here to pitch the ninth inning and he'd done it successfully everywhere he's been and we expect him to continue that."
Storen and Clippard may have to adjust to new roles.
• Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore broke down what Storen needs to do to get the $1M in performance bonuses:
"Storen could make as much as an extra $1 million based on games finished. Storen will make $250,000 if he finishes 20 games. He’ll make an additional $50,000 if he reaches 35 games finished; an additional $100,000 for 40 games finished; an additional $150,000 for 45 games finished; an additional $200,000 for 50 games finished; and, finally, an additional $250,000 if he finishes 60 games."
Storen was one of seven Nationals to file for arbitration this winter. The Nats still have to work out deals with pitchers Jordan Zimmermann, Craig Stammen, Clippard and Ross Detwiler, infielder Ian Desmond and outfielder Roger Bernadina to avoid arbitration.