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Nats sign Soriano for 2 years, with half deferred

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Nats sign Soriano for 2 years, with half deferred

WASHINGTON (AP) After giving Rafael Soriano a $28 million, two-year contract filled with deferred payments to be their go-to guy in the ninth inning, the Washington Nationals figure they have three closers now.

Soriano, who saved 42 games for the Yankees last season and 45 for the Rays in 2010, joins fellow right-handed relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, who both have 30-plus-save seasons in the majors.

``You strengthen a strength,'' Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said at a news conference Thursday, describing the addition of the 33-year-old Soriano to the reigning NL East champions' bullpen.

``We feel that we have multiple closers on this club that have the ability to close out games, and one of them is going to close out the seventh, one will close out the eighth and one will finish the game in the ninth,'' Rizzo said. ``We feel pretty good about that.''

And Rizzo left no doubt that Soriano will be the top choice.

``Suffice it to say,'' the GM said, ``Raffy is here to pitch the ninth inning and he has done it successfully everywhere he has been and we expect him to continue that.''

Hours later, word emerged that Storen agreed to a $2.5 million, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration. The deal also includes $1 million in available performance bonuses for Storen, who was among six extra players eligible for salary arbitration this winter under baseball's new labor deal.

Storen had 43 saves in 2011, but missed the first half of last season after an elbow operation in April. He failed to hold a ninth-inning lead against St. Louis in Game 5 of the NL division series, giving up four runs in a 9-7 loss that ended Washington's season.

``Drew Storen is a closer. He's going to be a closer. He's got closer stuff. He's got a closer mentality,'' Rizzo said. ``And by no means (was) the signing of Rafael Soriano ... based on one inning and one game at the end of the season.''

Rizzo said he has yet to speak to Storen or Clippard, who saved 32 games in 2012, but pitching coach Steve McCatty did.

``I'm certainly not worried about Clip or Drew,'' Rizzo said.

A one-time All-Star, Soriano had 42 saves in 46 chances and a 2.26 ERA for the AL East champion Yankees last year while filling in for injured closer Mariano Rivera, who plans to return in 2013 from a knee injury.

Soriano decided in October to decline a $14 million option for 2013, taking a $1.5 million buyout from the Yankees and entering free agency instead.

``When the opportunity with Washington came about, I thought it was a club that I could help now and obviously help win a World Series,'' Soriano said through a translator.

His contract with Washington is worth $14 million in both 2013 and 2014, with half the money each season deferred until $2 million payments are made each Jan. 5 from 2018-24. The deal also includes a $14 million club option for 2015, which becomes guaranteed if Soriano finishes 120 games in 2013 and 2014 combined. Half of the money for that option also would be deferred, increasing the annual 2018-24 payments to $3 million.

Washington will lose its first-round draft pick in June's amateur draft, while the Yankees will gain an extra pick after the first round as compensation for losing Soriano.

``I'm a big believer of building through the draft, but I think a few things were different this year,'' Rizzo said. ``Picking at the end of the draft, like we are this year, we examined the draft pool ... (and) it was a good time for us to forfeit the pick.''

Rizzo also spoke about the three-team swap Wednesday in which Washington sent outfielder Michael Morse to Seattle and reacquired pitching prospect A.J. Cole, dealt by the Nationals to Oakland 13 months ago in the trade for Gio Gonzalez. Washington also got minor league pitcher Blake Treinen and a player to be named.

``The phone call with Mike was kind of bittersweet,'' Rizzo said. ``He handled it terrifically. ... He told me he appreciated everything we've done for him. I told him we appreciate everything he's done for us. `Go out, have a good year and make a lot of money.'''

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MLB Rumors: Angels have ‘expressed interest’ in Anthony Rendon

MLB Rumors: Angels have ‘expressed interest’ in Anthony Rendon

The Nationals aren’t expected to re-sign third baseman Anthony Rendon after they locked Stephen Strasburg into a seven-year, $245 million deal Monday, but their competition just got stiffer with the news that the Angels are interested in the two-time Silver Slugger.

The Angels’ main target appears to be Gerrit Cole but they could turn to Rendon if they’re outbid by a team like the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers. Rendon has also been connected to the Dodgers, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies and is reportedly interested in signing a seven-year deal.

Nationals President Mike Rizzo said at a press conference Monday that “there’s ways to fit players in” when speaking about Rendon. His comments refuted an earlier statement made by principal owner Mark Lerner to NBC Sports Washington, to whom he said the Nationals “can really only afford to have one” of Strasburg or Rendon.

It’d be a surprising move if the Nationals did bring Rendon back, but everything remains possible at this point.

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MLB Rumors: Anthony Rendon free agency rumors tracker

MLB Rumors: Anthony Rendon free agency rumors tracker

With Stephen Strasburg's contract taken care of, Anthony Rendon is now the center of the free agency universe.

We already knew Rendon turned down a seven-year, $215 million offer from the Nationals before this season ended and the fact that he has little interest in playing past the age of 35. 

So the contract he signs, that will almost certainly surpass Nolan Arenado's $260 million total from last year, will likely be his last. Whether it's with the Nationals remains to be seen. 

Here's a compilation of every rumor associated with the star third baseman. 

Nov. 12: The Nationals are one of four teams to be interested in Josh Donaldson if Rendon doesn't return, per Mark Feinsand

Dec. 5: Nats owner Mark Lerner tells NBC Sports Washington the team can't afford to bring back both Strasburg and Rendon. 

Dec. 6: Scott Boras doesn't seem to buy what Lerner said, Rosenthal reports

Dec. 6: The Phillies plan to 'strongly pursue' Rendon despite luxury tax implications, according to Bob Nightengale. 

Dec. 9: Agent Scott Boras reportedly seeking a seven-year contract for Rendon, according to Ken Rosenthal

Dec. 9: MLB Network's Mark DeRosa would be 'shocked' if Rendon is not playing in a different uniform next season. 

Dec. 9: Mike Rizzo believes there's a path to bring back both Rendon and Strasburg back. 

Dec. 10: The Angels are another team interested in Rendon, Jon Heyman reports.

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