This past season’s bullpen woes were well-documented. Jerry Dipoto and company are in search of solutions, and Joakim Soria might be the solution.
Prior to missing all of the 2012 season following Tommy John surgery, Soria labored through the worst season of his career in 2011. After Kansas City drafted Soria with the second selection in the 2006 Rule V Draft, the Mexican right-hander posted a 2.01 ERA across 255 innings from 2007 to 2010.
In 2011, Soria struggled early in the season. Through May he had allowed 16 earned runs in only 22 innings (6.55 ERA), but he would turn things around and post a 2.58 ERA over 38.1 innings to end the season. Overall, it was a modest season, with a 4.03 ERA in 60.1 innings.
The Royals hoped for a strong campaign from Soria in 2012. He would make $6M and the club would have the option to bring him back for $8M in 2013. Unfortunately for Soria, he needed Tommy John surgery to repair his UCL on April 3, and 2012 was over before it started. Kansas City declined Soria’s option and made him a free agent for the first time in his career.
Soria is still very young and could presumably return to his prior form and carve out several strong seasons. Given the volatile nature of relief pitching and his recent injury, however, Soria is probably not in line for a valuable long-term deal. The 28-year-old could be a low-risk, high reward opportunity for a team in need of bullpen depth.
The Halos’ bullpen wasn’t very deep in 2012. There was always someone hurt and, as a result, there was never a game that felt secure after the starter exited. The Angels would be wise to stock pile arms in the hopes that most of them can stay healthy. As Justin Millar noted yesterday, Kevin Jepsen, Jordan Walden, Scott Downs, and Ernesto Frieri are all still around. Each of these pitchers is usable in the late innings, but at any given time in 2012 at least one of them was injured, struggling, or not on the team.
Soria has a chance to boost his value by signing an incentive-laden, short-term deal. He’s also never had the opportunity to pitch in a playoff race, which makes the Angels a natural fit. He may be slow to regain velocity and control, and a back-loaded deal with a club option for 2014 would be fair for both sides.
If the Angels could secure Soria’s services (Say that 10 times fast!) in such a deal, they could catch fire in a bottle. If he fails to live up to expectations, he can be turned loose at minimal cost.