By Jason Shetler
One of the biggest needs the Pirates had to address at this year’s trade deadline was their bullpen. They brought in a couple of relievers in Joe Blanton and Joakim Soria. The Pirates acquired Soria from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for shortstop prospect JaCoby Jones. The 31-year-old right-hander had served as the Tigers closer before coming to Pittsburgh as the primary 7th inning man.
In 29 appearances with the Pirates, Soria posted a 2.03 ERA along with a 1.16 WHIP and a 9.5 K/9. His Fielding Independent Pitching was even better than the ERA at 1.93. Soria is a free agent this offseason, so should the Pirates try to bring him back? – The Pirates are likely to sell high on Mark Melancon in the offseason, as he’s projected to make around $10 million in his final year as an arbitration eligible player. Bringing back Soria means the Pirates would place him in the closers role to replace Melancon. Here’s where the problem would lie.
Soria’s 2015 salary with the Tigers was already on the high side at $7 million. Based on the season he had, that figure in free agency would possibly be about the same as Melancon would make in arbitration. Truthfully, if the Pirates are going to spend that much on Soria as a free agent, then they should just keep Melancon. In addition, Soria will probably want a multi-year contract just like any solid relief pitcher would want on the open market. I think the Pirates would be better off finding a replacement for Soria at a more reasonable amount while at the same time investing most of those dollars towards the rotation for next season.