After months of waiting, Rafael Soriano finally landed a multi-year contract with perhaps the only team for whom such a deal would've made sense — the Washington Nationals.
The 33-year-old right-hander will make $28 million over the next two years, with a vesting option for a third if he finishes 120 games over the next two seasons, something only two relief pitchers did over the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
The Nats already owned a phalanx of capable right-handed relievers. Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen figured to line up as the team's eighth- and ninth-inning options, with manager Davey Johnson set to rotate roles as health and performance dictated. He did so in 2012 and got reasonable results given the duo's price (and relative lack of closing experience, if that's your jam), with Clippard seizing the closer role for much of the season as Storen recovered from elbow surgery, followed by Storen returning to ninth-inning duties later in the year. Ryan Mattheus and Christian Garcia figured to handle setup roles.
Hot Stove disappointments happen every year, to every team. But these aren't your pennant-winning Rangers of 2010 and 2011. Michael Young is gone. Mike Napoli is gone. Neftali Feliz's arm is in dry dock. And Josh Hamilton is in limbo. Last season ended with a wild-card game loss and an early exit. Could the team pegged as the AL's new power just a year ago become an also-ran in 2013?
Baseball's Hot Stove season is far from over, with Prince Fielder, Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Madson, and others still lurking in free agency, and the trade market still stuffed with possibilities. But several teams will end up standing pat from here, deeming the price tags too high for what's out there.
That could force a number of contenders to turn players who've never (or rarely) played everyday into lineup and rotation and mainstays. Leaving aside superprospects like Jesus Montero who are widely expected to produce fairly quickly, here are 10 unlikely likely starters who could impact pennant races in 2012.
In baseball's busiest day since the end of the winter meetings, one team might have landed the biggest bargain of the offseason, another might have overpaid and still come out happy with the outcome, and one of our favorite athletes trolled the hell out of tens of thousands of people.