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Holden & Danny: What Soriano Signing Means For Nats Bullpen

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Holden & Danny Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier
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When the Washington Nationals shocked the baseball world Tuesday by reaching an agreement with former Yankee Rafael Soriano, it all but ensured Drew Storen will not have a chance to redeem his season-ending blown save in the playoffs as this season’s closer.

Soriano, who the Nats reportedly have reached a two year deal with, valued at $28 million dollars – with a vesting option for 2015 if he eclipses 120 games in his first two years in D.C. – just became the most expensive reliever in the game of baseball.

Sports columnist for Yahoo! Sports, Jeff Passan – who first broke the news of the trade – checked in with Holden and Danny to explain what this deal means for the rest of the Nationals bullpen.

“This is a big, landmark deal the Nationals are banking on,” Passan said. “Despite what Davey Johnson likes to do with closers, I imagine Soriano will take every save opportunity.”

For Storen, who blew a two-out, two-run lead against the Cardinals to lose the NLDS in his last appearance, this could very well mean the end of his role as the team’s premier closer. He saved 43 games in 2011 with a 2.75 ERA, before having to battle back from a near season-long elbow injury in 2012. Storen was groomed to be the team’s closer since the Nationals drafted him 10th overall in 2009.

“I could understand some frustration on his behalf,” said Passan. “But would you rather be an 8th inning guy on a team that could win the World Series, or be a guy who could be closing on a team two-to-three years away?”

Filling in for him at the time in his injury absence was teammate/roommate Tyler Clippard – who is usually accustomed to a setup role – saved 32 games in 37 opportunities in 2012. It is uncertain how his role will be affected moving forward.

Regardless of how things shake out, the Nationals will undoubtedly have one of the top back-end bullpens in the Major Leagues in 2013, to supplement what will arguably be the game’s best rotation to defend runs for an already top-flight lineup.

“For the Nats to then go out and sign Adam LaRoche and Rafael Soriano to go out and make moves after everyone, I think they were favored to win the NL before that, but now could be the favorites out of everyone.”

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