As expected, Rafael Soriano has chosen to exercise the opt-out clause for the final year of his three-year, $35 million contract and is now a free agent.
What it means: That the Yankees have a huge decision to make -- do they negotiate a new deal with Soriano as insurance in case Mariano Rivera either decides to retire or is unable to come back at his former effectiveness after suffering a season-ending knee injury last May? Or do they let Sori walk and gamble that Mo will be the Mariano of old in 2013?
Why it happened: Because the Yankees agreed to allow Soriano's agent, Scott Boras, to include opt-out clauses after each of the first two years of the deal, affording his client an out in the event he did not want to serve as a setup man, or, in this case, had a season outstanding enough to warrant seeking a new deal. In 2012, Soriano filled in admirably for Mo, converting 42 of 45 save opportunities, at which point there was little doubt he would opt for free agency.
Reasons the Yankees should negotiate with Soriano: Obviously, if Mo chooses to retire, or finds it difficult to come back after nearly a full year on the sidelines -- he will turn 43 on Nov. 29 -- the Yankees will need a closer next year, and Soriano has already proven he is up to the task.
Reasons they shouldn't: Because if Mo does come back effectively, the Yankees will be grossly overpaying for a setup man, which was GM Brian Cashman's objection to the original deal. And with Hal Steinbrenner insisting he will cut payroll to $189 million by 2014, a $14 million setup man is a luxury the Yankees will not be able to afford.
What they should do next: Push Mariano for a decision immediately on whether he will try to come back next year. If he says he is not, the choice is simple: re-sign Soriano. If he is, then they have a tough call to make. My gut says if Mo comes back, the Yankees will let Sori walk and gamble that either David Robertson or, yes, Joba Chamberlain, or maybe even David Phelps could step in as the closer if Mariano is not able to resume his former duties.
What do you think?: Sign Sori and potentially carry two closers? Say sayonara and roll the dice on Mo? Let us know in the comments section below.