Rafael Soriano appears to have signed himself into a closer controversy.
The free agent relief pitcher has agreed to a two-year, $28 million contract with the Washington Nationals, Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday.
By signing Soriano, the Nationals will lose their first-round draft pick, because Soriano was one of three remaining free agents with draft-pick compensation attached.
Soriano's deal includes a $14 million option for 2015 that vests if Soriano finishes 120 games in 2013 and 2014 combined, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. That would require him to be the Nationals' fulltime closer.
The Nationals' bullpen already includes Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Storen had 43 saves in 2011 and four in 2012 while Clippard saved 32 games in 2012.
Soriano had 42 saves and a 2.26 earned run average for the Yankees in 2012, when he became the team's closer after Mariano Rivera injured his knee and was lost for the season. But Rivera is scheduled to return this season.
---Speaking of controversy, Terry Francona's upcoming book, which will be released later this month, takes some shots the Boston Red Sox owners, according to excerpts published by WBZ in Boston.
The implication is the owners don't love baseball and put ratings and attendance above everything else.
One except describes a meeting with then-general manager Theo Epstein, Francona and the ownership group of Larry Lucchino, Tom Werner and John Henry:
"Werner talked about slumping television ratings and whined, 'We need to start winning in more exciting fashion,'" according to excerpt, which later quoted Epstein as saying, "They told us we didn't have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle. We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy."
---The Seattle Mariners have signed Luis Liberato, a 17-year-old outfielder from the Domincan Republic, to a $140,000 contract, according to Baseball America.