Reliever Rafael Soriano opted out of the final year of a three-year, $35 million US contract with the New York Yankees on Wednesday and will likely seek a long-term deal in free agency.
The move was expected after the right-hander had 42 saves and a 2.26 earned-run average while filling in for closer Mariano Rivera this season after baseball's saves leader tore a knee ligament in early May.
"I'm not surprised because [agent] Scott Boras told me he was confident he could get him 15 times four [years], $60 million. If that's the case, it would be a good deal for Soriano," Yankees president Randy Levine told The Associated Press. "I hope that's what's real in the marketplace."
Soriano was set to make $14 million next season. Instead, New York will pay him a $1.5 million buyout. The Yankees can make him a qualifying offer of $13.3 million before Friday's deadline, and if Soriano signs with another team, they will get draft compensation.
Soriano, who will be 33 in December, signed his hefty contract with New York before the 2011 season after notching a career-high 45 saves with Tampa Bay. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner overruled general manager Brian Cashman in making the deal. Cashman was opposed to giving closer money to a setup man.
The one-time all-star had an injury plagued first season with New York and he ended up getting the bulk of his work in the seventh inning, falling behind youngster David Robertson in the bullpen.
But when Rivera went down, and Robertson struggled as the replacement stopper before going on the disabled list, Soriano slipped comfortably into the role.
Orioles decline Mark Reynolds option
The Baltimore Orioles on Wendesday have exercised the 2013 club option on right-handed reliever Luis Ayala and declined their option on first baseman Mark Reynolds.
Reynolds was in position to receive $11 million US next season. He will get a $500,000 buyout, and remains under club control through the arbitration process.
Reynolds hit .221 in 135 games this past season with 23 homers and 69 runs batted in.
The 34-year-old Ayala went 5-5 with a 2.64 earned-run average in 66 appearances with Baltimore. He allowed one earned run or fewer in all but seven outings.
Royals set Soria free
The Royals have declined their 2013 option on Joakim Soria after he missed all of last season because of Tommy John surgery, making the former all-star closer a free agent.
The Royals chose to exercise a $750,000 US buyout clause on the right-hander Wednesday rather than the $8 million option for next season. Even though Soria is a free agent, both sides have expressed interest in working out a new contract.
Soria missed the 2003 season with his first Tommy John surgery. He was chosen by the Royals in the Rule 5 draft in 2006, and evolved into one of the league's top closers, saving 160 games and putting together a 2.40 earned-run average in parts of five seasons.
Indians bring back Jimenez
The Cleveland Indians have picked up Ubaldo Jimenez's $5.75 million US contract option for next season.
The Indians, who collapsed from contention in August, also declined a $13 million option on designated hitter Travis Hafner and a $6 million option on right-hander Roberto Hernandez.
Jimenez went 9-17 with a 5.40 earned-run average in 31 starts last season. The right-hander has been a major disappointment since he was acquired in 2011 from Colorado for top pitching prospects Alex White and Drew Pomeranz.
Hafner had another injury-shortened season. He batted .228 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs in 66 games.
Hernandez's season was delayed because of false identity charges in the Dominican Republic. Formerly known as Fausto Carmona, he went 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA in three starts. Hafner and Hernandez are both eligible for free agency.