Rangers, Soria closing in on two-year deal
Right-hander had 160 saves for Royals before missing 2012 season
By T.R. Sullivan / 12/03/12 8:00 PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Rangers are close on a two-year deal with free agent right-hander Joakim Soria, according to sources at the Winter Meetings. Soria, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., is flying to Arlington to have a physical on Tuesday, and there are still some details to work out in the contract.
Soria will serve as a setup man in front of closer Joe Nathan; the two relievers are good friends. Soria missed all of last season because of Tommy John surgery, and it's not clear if he'll be ready for Opening Day.
A two-time All-Star for the Royals, Soria, 28, saved 160 games over five seasons in 2007-11. In his first four seasons, he had a 2.01 ERA and held opponents to a .197 batting average. In 2011, he slipped to a 4.03 ERA, while opponents hit .259 off him.
"We had interest in bringing Joakim back, it just didn't work out," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "We had a period of time early on when we had exclusivity with negotiations and it just didn't happen. He wanted to explore the market and once you get out there in the market, it's obviously open season and he was just able to get a better deal right now than we could offer."
Nathan missed all of 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He struggled in his first year back with the Twins, going 2-1 with a 4.84 ERA in 2011. But the Rangers signed him to a two-year deal last winter, and he ended up with 37 saves in 2012 while being selected to the All-Star Game for the fifth time in his career. Nathan had a 2.80 ERA in 2012 and opponents hit .231 off him.
Soria, if he is healthy, gives the Rangers a veteran setup reliever to go along with left-handers Robbie Ross and Michael Kirkman and right-hander Tanner Scheppers. The Rangers are not done shopping for relievers and are also looking for catching help.
Soria could end up as Texas' closer in 2014. Nathan is signed through the 2013 season, after which the Rangers hold a $9 million option with a $750,000 buyout.
"He's one of our favorites. One of the classiest, highly-professional players and people that I've ever been around," Moore said. "I wish him and Karla and his family the very, very best. Our partnership and relationship will always be strong.
"He's a young man and he'll be in this game a long time. He's overcome a lot with his second Tommy John and I'm confident that he'll come back and do very, very well."