Yesterday, the Atlanta Braves avoided arbitration with Rafael Soriano by signing him to a two-year $9 million contract. The deal buys out one year of arbitration and one year of free agency. I think the Braves overpaid; but, I tend think relievers are overvalued in the market right now.
Soriano was requesting $3.4 million through arbitration, while the Braves countered with $2.4 million. Based on his last two years of performance—I normally go with three, but he was hurt in 2005—I have him valued at around $3.5 million per year. I think that the Braves would have won this, but this is not all that relevant.
The big difference comes in 2009, when he will make $6.1 million—almost double what I have him valued at. I would have preferred for the Braves to have taken their chances in arbitration, and looked elsewhere for cheaper relief next season. I’m not sure that Soriano would get that much money on the open market. I also am a bit concerned about Soriano’s ability to hold up. There was a stretch last year where he was awful. Even if he pitches at his best, I think this is a poor use of resources.