[The deal is official, and there’s an update below.]
Gordon Wittenmyer at the Sun-Times is reporting that the Cubs are close to agreeing to terms with free agent reliever Rafael Soriano on a deal that could be finalized as soon as today. The deal could be a minor league deal, though the expectation, I’d assume, would be that Soriano would get a few appearances in at the minor league level to get ready to go, and then join the big league team soon. At that point, his minor league deal would kick over into a big league deal, on which I’m guessing he’ll get a more substantial salary than the Major League minimum.
Obligatory caveat, as always with rumored deals: nothing has yet been reported as finalized, and nothing has been confirmed by the team.
Soriano, 35, lost his job as the Nationals’ closer in the second half last year as his stuff seemed to flatten out, but has been a dominant reliever for a very long time. If the stuff has returned, he could instantly help the Cubs’ bullpen, which has been beset by injuries and, at times, ineffectiveness.
Soriano was expected to throw for teams in the Dominican Republic on Thursday unless a deal came sooner. Perhaps that was designed to place a little pressure on interested teams.
It looks like it’s going to be a busy day, what with the draft kicking back off in an hour, and now this rumor to follow. I’ll keep you posted.
UPDATE: That was fast. The Cubs just announced the signing, and it is indeed a minor league deal. That mitigates some of the risk for the Cubs, though I’m sure there is an understanding that, assuming he’s healthy, he’ll get a shot with the big league team as soon as he’s ready to go. As I said, I’d imagine he’s getting a split rate deal, where his big league salary will be more than the ML minimum. Hopefully he gets up to speed quickly, and becomes available to the Cubs’ pen soon.
Rafael Soriano has a minor league with Cubs. It's for $4.1M prorated base with up to $4M in bonuses for games finished & appearances.
— James Wagner (@ByJamesWagner) June 9, 2015
That looks great to me, and also sounds about right for both sides. I’ll have more on Soriano soon.