JOAKIM SORIA, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: May 18, 1984
Signed: Int’l free agent, 2001 (Dodgers)
How Acquired: Trade (from Tigers for JaCoby Jones)
Agent: Oscar Suarez
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Soria’s had one of the stranger careers among established major leaguers, seemingly coming out of nowhere to establish himself as one of the game’s better closers. He originally signed with the Dodgers in late 2001, but pitched very little before missing two years due to Tommy John surgery. He made it back to the Mexican League, where he spent most of two years before attracting attention just prior to the 2006 Rule 5 draft with a big showing in the Mexican winter league. The Royals selected him and he quickly became their closer. He’s succeeded with a fastball that generally sits a little over 91 mph. The pitch dropped closer to 90 after his second Tommy John in 2012, but was back up to 92 in 2015. If the pitch trackers are to be believed, Soria also throws a cutter, slider, curve and change, all of which have usually been effective pitches. He’s mostly had high K rates and low walk rates, but his K rate was well down in 2015. He’s been slightly more effective against left-handed than right-handed batters during his career. The Pirates acquired him at the 2015 trade deadline.
The Dodgers brought Soria to the GCL for his first season, but he pitched only briefly.
Soria missed the 2003 season due to Tommy John surgery, then never appeared in 2004, either. The Dodgers released him after the 2004 season.
Soria finally got back on the mound in the Mexican League, but wasn’t especially effective. The Padres nevertheless bought his contract from the Mexico City Red Devils.
Soria pitched only briefly in the Padres’ system, as the team loaned him back to the Red Devils. He had a big showing in Mexican winter ball, though, which generated interest in the Rule 5 draft. The Royals resisted overtures from teams that wanted to use their #2 overall pick to take Soria, instead drafting him themselves.
Soria had no trouble sticking with the Royals all year, spending much of it as their closer. He struck out well over a batter an inning and finished seventh in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Soria had a big year, holding opponents to a .166 average and making the All-Star team.
Soria missed some time during the season: about a month with a shoulder problem, then the last two weeks with a hamstring injury. When he wasn’t hurt he continued to be very effective, with an especially high K rate.
Soria stayed healthy and made his second All-Star team.
Soria’s effectiveness dropped, as some of his groundballs turned into line drives and his HR rate exceeded one per nine innings for the first time. The issue may have been health-related, as he had his second Tommy John surgery before the next season.
Soria missed the season following the Tommy John surgery. He became a free agent after the season.
The Rangers signed Soria to a two-year deal with a team option for 2015. He returned from the Tommy John surgery in July and pitched mainly as a setup man. He got hit harder than in the past, had control problems for the first time, but didn’t have gopher ball problems, with a 0.76 HR/9.
Soria served as the Rangers’ closer through late July, when they sent him to the Tigers, who wanted him as a setup man. While he was with Texas, his walk rate dropped drastically, he fanned well over a batter an inning, and he didn’t allow a single HR. Soria suffered an oblique strain shortly after the trade and missed a month, from early August to early September. When he came back, he wasn’t as effective, with his K rate dropping to less than half of what it had been with the Rangers. In his one post-season game, he allowed five runs in one inning.
Soria opened the season as the Tigers’ setup man, but moved into the closer’s role when Joe Nathan blew out his arm. Soria pitched very well on the surface, but his xFIP suggests he wasn’t as effective as his ERA suggests. He had significant gopher ball issues, allowing one every five innings. The batted ball data shows he was allowing hard-hit balls at a rate of 29.3%, compared to a career rate of 25.2%. His K rate dropped substantially. The Tigers traded him to the Pirates a day before the deadline for shortstop prospect JaCoby Jones. Soria moved into the 7th inning role for the Pirates and pitched well, getting his K rate back up well above one per inning.
Soria will be a free agent after the season. He’s not the pitcher he was before the Tommy John surgery, although he’s still very good. He may or may not be able to find a deal as a closer, but he’ll probably look for one.
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2002
MLB Debut: 4/4/2007
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2015
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 12/7/2006
Options Remaining: 0
MLB Service Time: 8.000
|October 31, 2001: Signed as an international free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
October 12, 2004: Released by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
December 20, 2005: Signed as a minor league free agent with the San Diego Padres.
December 7, 2006: Selected by the Kansas City Royals from the San Diego Padres in the Rule 5 draft.
November 3, 2012: Became a free agent.
December 4, 2012: Signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers.
July 23, 2014: Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Detroit Tigers for Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel.
July 30, 2015: Traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Pittsburgh Pirates for JaCoby Jones.