Acquisition of Soriano Completes Nationals' Roster
Charles E. Sutton | 1/21/2013, 9:10 p.m.
Before training camp starts next month, the Nationals might make a minor move or two. But having signed reliever Rafael Soriano and traded slugger Michael Morse for pitching prospects last week, general manager Mike Rizzo's work is essentially done.
During a press conference at Nationals Park on Thursday, the team introduced Soriano and addressed the Morse trade. The Nationals acquired former draft choice A.J. Cole, a right-hander; along with right-hander Blake Treinen and a player-to-be-named.
"We certainly like the team we have," Rizzo said. "We're always open for business if something pops up that makes us better. We're always open to do more stuff, to make more deals."
Soriano, 33, had 42 saves last season for the New York Yankees. He replaced injured closer Mariano Rivera and helped stabilize the Yankees' bullpen on the way to an American League East championship. But Rivera is expected to return from his torn ACL this season and Soriano has always wanted to close for a contender. So, Soriano and his agent Scott Boras opted out of the final year of his contract. The risk paid off when he signed a two-year deal worth $28 million from Washington along with the closer's job.
"Obviously I've always been a patient person, and Scott knows this about me. He told me from the get-go, 'Just bide your time, continue to work out, do what you need to do,'" Soriano said in Spanish through an interpreter. "When the opportunity with Washington came about, I thought it was a club that I could help now and obviously help win a World Series."
At the same time, Rizzo said trading Morse was difficult. The 30-year-old had become a fan favorite at Nationals Park. But he had nowhere to play on the field following the trade for outfielder Denard Span, and the re-signing of first baseman Adam LaRoche.
"We could've kept [Morse]. And knowing me, if we didn't get the deal we wanted, we would've kept him," Rizzo said. But I don't think it would've been fair to him in a contract year to come off the bench. I don't think his skills are really indicative of a bench player. There was enough interest."
With their roster now complete, the Nationals enter the 2013 season with a healthy mix of young players just entering their primes. The starting rotation is among baseball's best. The bullpen is deep and very talented. The offense, with improved health, hopes to get better too.