Sept. 19, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano (29) pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Yanks won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Padres Off-Season Target: Rafael Soriano

With the growing speculation of the Padres possibly swapping relief pitcher Luke Gregerson for a starting pitcher, the Padres need to sign Rafael Soriano to keep the bullpen intact.

Ok, even if the Padres end up keeping Gregerson, they should still sign the Dominican right-hander.

Soriano, 32, is a valuable option out of the bullpen. He can be a set-up man for closer Huston Street, a role Soriano has experience in. And if Street where to go down with an injury, Soriano could easily slide into the closer’s role, where he has 132 career saves under his belt.

If Gregerson where to leave town, that would leave a massive hole in the bullpen, and I feel Soriano could fill that hole.

Soriano is arguably the best relief pitcher on the free agent market.

Last season, Soriano pitched with the New York Yankees. The pitcher appeared in 69 games (67.2/3 innings) for the 2012 American League East Champions, putting together a  2-1 record, to go along with a  2.26 ERA while racking up 9.2 SO/9.

Soriano could provide the Padres with more than consistency out of the bullpen; he can give the young Padres bullpen some veteran experience.

He does not complain and always wants the ball when the game is on the line. Even if he has a bad outing, he has the ability to bounce back the next day, and put up zeros on the scoreboard. The fresh faces in the bullpen can definitely learn from him.

The free agent pitcher has tons of experience pitching on the big stage, a quality the team lacks.

Soriano could be very pricey though because he opted out of the final year of his $35 million three-year contract with the Yankees, and is said to be looking for a long-term deal.  He was to make $14 million with the Yankees this coming season.

But no matter his price tag, if the Padres want to compete in the N.L. West they should consider signing Soriano.

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