Six years after the Royals acquired Joakim Soria at the Winter Meetings, they appear poised to lose their two-time All-Star.
Soria on Monday agreed to a two-year contract with the Texas Rangers believed to be worth between $8 million to $9 million. The deal is contingent on Soria, 28, passing a physical examination.
That’s no small detail since he missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 3 to repair a torn elbow ligament. He isn’t expected to be ready for major-league duty until after the All-Star break.
“We had interest in bringing Joakim back,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “It just didn’t work out. We had a period of time, early on when we had exclusivity, that we worked to come to an agreement. It just didn’t happen.”
Soria became a free agent Oct. 31 when the Royals chose to exercise a $750,000 buyout after the season on their $8 million option for 2013. At the time, Soria said he hoped to remain with the club.
“Oh, yeah,” Soria said following a light throwing session at the Royals’ complex in Surprise, Ariz. “It’s better for me and my family (to stay with the Royals). My wife is pregnant. Everything is good there. But I’m just focusing on my rehab.”
The Royals view their current bullpen, now headed by Greg Holland, as a strength and were unwilling to make a large guaranteed investment to retain Soria. Instead, they preferred a deal with a low guarantee and hefty performance bonuses.
“Once you get out there in the market,” Moore said, “it’s obviously open season. He was able to get a better deal than we were able to offer. He’s one of the classiest, highly professional players and people who I’ve ever been around.
“I wish him and Karla and his family the best. Our relationship will always be strong.
He’s overcome a lot. This is his second Tommy John, and I’m confident that he’ll come back and do very well.”
The Royals selected Soria from San Diego in the Rule 5 Draft at the 2006 Winter Meetings. He became the club’s closer on July 31, 2007 after a trade sent Octavio Dotel to Atlanta.
Soria went 13-15 with a 2.40 ERA and 160 saves in 298 games from 2007-11. He converted 150 of 167 saves opportunities after becoming the club’s closer and was picked as an All-Star in 2008 and 2010.