Cheap Seats

Rumor Mill: Cardinals interested in reliever Rafael Soriano

Multiple reports indicate the St. Louis Cardinals are one of a handful of teams interested in signing idle reliever Rafael Soriano.

That’s not especially big news on its face. He’s an experienced reliever who, at 35 and with no takers over the winter, couldn’t possibly demand a long or particularly lucrative contract.

My question is: Why are they interested in him?

St. Louis seems to be getting by just fine in the reliever department these days. And we’ve been led to believe that set-up man Jordan Walden is on the mend and will soon be rejoining the mix. So why would the Redbirds need a short reliever at this stage of the game?

I hope there isn’t an injury concern hidden behind the scenes at this point.

Soriano has been a pretty steady guy over the course of his career. But he was terrible the second half of last season. So he’s be something of a gamble taking over the eighth inning for a team that’s currently 36-18.

Before the All-Star Break in 2014 he was 1-0 with an 0.97 ERA and a .153 batting average against. After it, Soriano was 3-1 with a 6.48 ERA and a .305 batting average against.

His walks and hits per innings pitched doubled in the second half from a stellar .811 to a lackluster 1.60 average.

I suppose the Redbirds could be looking at Soriano as an insurance policy. But I am guessing, at this stage of his career and as a free agent who can choose his destination, Soriano wants to go somewhere he’ll have a chance to contribute. I don’t believe he’s likely to accept a low ball contract AND a ticket to the minor leagues just in case he’s needed.

Mitch Harris, with a 4.40 ERA and 21 hits allowed in 14 1/3 innings is the obvious guy on the bubble. But I expected he was only keeping Walden’s seat on the bullpen bench warmed.

I wonder, if the Cardinals signed Soriano who’d be the next man down. Seth Maness has struggled a bit with a 3.80 ERA. But not so much that it seems likely he’s lose his position as designated ground ball inducer.

Could the Cardinals be considering a trade that would take some of their bullpen depth?