Soriano accepts arbitration offer

Braves' Soriano accepts arbitration

INDIANAPOLIS -- Providing further indication that he wasn't receiving the kind of attention he was expected to gain on the free-agent market, reliever Rafael Soriano accepted the arbitration offer made by the Braves before Monday's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline.

Instead of waiting to see if he gained the attractive multiyear offer that teams may have been willing to provide once the market for free-agent relievers further intensifies, Soriano accepted this arbitration offer that will provide him a non-guaranteed one-year contract worth approximately $6.5 million.

Given that Soriano will be projected to at least start the season as a middle reliever in the newly-reconstructed Atlanta bullpen, Braves general manager Frank Wren now expects the right-handed reliever will ask to be traded.

When Wren provided this information Monday afternoon, he was also referring to his other free-agent reliever Mike Gonzalez, who as expected declined his arbitration offer before Monday night's deadline.

"The role is not going to be, for Mike or Raffy, the roles that they left," Wren said. "It's going to be different. To be pitching late in the game, they will want to go somewhere else."

Soriano and Gonzalez, who split time as Atlanta's closer and top setup man this past season, saw their roles filled last week, when the Braves signed closer Billy Wagner and projected setup man Takashi Saito.

With Soriano, the Braves would find themselves with arguably the game's top bullpen. But instead of spending the $6.5 million to have him share the sixth- and seventh-inning duties with Peter Moylan, Atlanta would rather utilize those funds to assist its attempt to upgrade its lineup with the addition of at least one bat.

"If they accept arbitration, I don't think they'll be in a role that they'll be excited about, based on what they did last year," Wren added on Monday afternoon while once again also referencing Gonzalez. "I would anticipate them coming to us and asking us to trade them once the market develops and goes forward."

While the Braves might have been somewhat surprised that Soriano opted to accept arbitration, Wren said this decision won't financially hinder him in a manner that would cause him to alter who he will seek to fill his final roster needs.

"We're going to go ahead and put our club together," Wren said. "The one thing about good players is that when you have good players, you can trade them."

While Major League Baseball guidelines would prevent the Braves from moving Soriano before June 15, they would be able to move him at any point before this as long as they have his consent.

Because this one-year contract will be gained through the arbitration process, it isn't guaranteed. Thus with just cause, the Braves could gain the ability to release Soriano during Spring Training.

Soriano's agent, Peter Greenberg, spent Monday meeting with a number of clubs, including the Astros and Red Sox. But in the end, he seemingly didn't gain the offer that was projected after Soriano converted 27 of his 31 save opportunities and limited opponents to a .194 batting average this past season.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.