Braves plan to move Soriano, who re-signed for $9 million, to closer

ATLANTA -- Relief pitcher Rafael Soriano and the Atlanta
Braves agreed Thursday to a
$9 million, two-year contract that
avoided arbitration.

The Braves plan to make Soriano their closer this season. He
went 3-3 with a 3.00 ERA and nine saves in a career-high 71
appearances last year, holding opponents to a .181 batting average.

The right-hander would have been eligible for free agency after
the 2008 season.

"We are very excited to be able to keep Rafael for two more
seasons," Atlanta general manager Frank Wren said. "Rafael was an
important part of our bullpen last year, and based on his
performance over the last two seasons, he will now have an even
more important role for us in 2008 as our closer."

Soriano was acquired in a December 2006 trade with Seattle for
left-hander Horacio Ramirez.

When arbitration figures were exchanged last week, Soriano asked
for $3.4 million and the Braves offered $2.4 million. He made $1.3
million last season.

The Braves have agreed to contracts with all six of their
players who filed for arbitration.

Soriano gets salaries of $2.4 million this year and $6.1 million
in 2009, plus a $500,000 signing bonus.