Well, it looks like Rafael Soriano found a way to have his cake and eat it too. He’s going to get his arbitration-governed wage after an excellent season and possibly sign a long-run contract with another team without having his value affected by draft-pick compensation. As I suggested the other day, accepting arbitration was a cunning strategy to detach his services from the draft-pick required by his Type-A status. The Braves have traded Soriano to the Tampa Bay Rays in return for Jesse Chavez, whom the Rays recently acquired from the Pirates in a trade for Akinori Iwamura.
Here is what I had to say about Chavez the last month.
a young and decent-but-not-spectacular reliever. He’s difficult to value because he doesn’t have a long record of performance, and as a reliever his career sample size is small. As an average reliever who pitches 80ish innings, he’s worth around $2 million/year. He’s got two more years before he hits arbitration when he’ll be making a little over $400K a season. Thus, he provides about $3 million in total surplus (marginal revenue product — salary) over the next two years. This doesn’t even take into account his arbitration years, when he’ll make a little less than half of what he’s generating in revenue (He’ll also be improving and league revenues will be growing). Though, I’m reluctant to put much value on this time period given the difficulty in predicting what he’ll become from his short career. There is a lot of uncertainty here.
For his 2009 season, I have Soriano worth between $9–$10 million, and he’ll probably get between $7–$9 million in arbitration. So, it looks like the Braves got close to the maximum value that they could have expected to get out of him. If Chavez can get his home runs under control, he could blossom into a valuable reliever; of course, he could also regress and become a non-tender candidate. For those Rays fans who were upset that they couldn’t get more for Iwamura, I think you have to be pretty happy now.