NASHVILLE -- The Detroit Tigers say they have no interest in closer Rafael Soriano. The agent for Soriano refuses to believe it.
Soriano opted out of a contract with the New York Yankees that would have guaranteed him $14 million next season. With major-market teams either set for a closer or reluctant to spend big money to sign one, Boras has not yet found a team to give Soriano the expected multiyear contract.
The Tigers, who bid farewell to Jose Valverde after his disastrous postseason, say their closer will be 21-year-old rookie Bruce Rondon. The Tigers also would have veterans Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel available as insurance.
“Soriano ain’t happening with us,” a Tigers official told Peter Gammons of mlb.com.
Boras, who has successfully appealed to Tigers owner Mike Ilitch to sign Prince Fielder, Magglio Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez in previous winters, might try that route again. Boras certainly isn’t buying the thought that the Tigers have no interest.
“The Tigers’ position is one where they’re trying to put together their best team,” Boras said, “and they haven’t made those decisions.”
Soriano is not looking to take a pay cut either, at least based on apparent shots Boras took at Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, each of whom agreed to a three-year, $39-million contract this week.
“We’re seeing mid-level players make $13 million a year,” Boras said. “The value of a closer, you would have to argue, has historically been more valuable than what you see in mid-level players.”
The last two World Series champions have had relatively inexperienced closers, Sergio Romo of the San Francisco Giants this year and Jason Motte of the St. Louis Cardinals last year.
“There are more teams that have lost their way out of the playoffs than there are teams that sustain their way in the playoffs while functioning without a known, stable force in the bullpen,” Boras said.
“There are many young players in our game that are 20 or 21, that can hit 30 home runs or drive in 100 runs or win 15 games. There never have been closers that can come in and get 30 saves. I think you can count on one hand the number of closers under the age of 23 that have ever gone to the big leagues and put together 30 saves, let alone pitch in the postseason and be effective.”
You only have to go back two years. Neftali Feliz, at 22, saved 40 games for the Texas Rangers during the 2010 regular season, then gave up one run in 7 1/3 postseason innings as the Rangers reached the World Series.
On another front, Boras said he strongly supported the Oakland Athletics’ proposed move to San Jose.
“I have always been advancing the best interests of baseball,” Boras said. “If we look at it as 30 franchises trying to be in the best places they can be to succeed, I would think that every owner … would agree the Oakland A’s belong in San Jose, and that they would be in an environment where it would optimize the betterment of baseball.”
The San Francisco Giants staunchly oppose the move. Commissioner Bud Selig took the matter under advisement almost four years ago but has yet to persuade the Giants to discuss a compromise -- under which they would yield their territorial rights to San Jose -- or to impose a solution.