The Kansas City Royals have signed former Kansas City and Detroit closer Joakim Soria to a three year, $ 25 million contract. Just hours earlier, the Tigers signed set up man Mark Lowe to a two year deal. The Tigers reportedly offered Soria almost the same amount before moving on to Lowe. Tony Paul of the Detroit News reports that the Tigers offered $24 million over three years to Soria before moving on to Lowe, and the Tigers are not done with their bullpen.
The Royals' prized bullpen lost Ryan Madson and Franklin Morales to free agency and their closer Greg Holland to Tommy John surgery. The Tigers jettisoned three more relief pitchers from last season's roster by non-tendering Neftali Feliz and Al Alburquerque, while trading Ian Krol. That's after trading Soria in July and losing Joe Nathan to free agency. The Tigers traded for closer Francisco Rodriguez and have signed Lowe to set up for K-Rod.
The Tigers cleared relief pitchers who earned over $ 20 million in salaries last year off their roster, and spent $ 7.5 million of that budget on Rodriguez. The overall budget may be tight, pushing up against the luxury tax threshold after signing Lowe, but that they'd be willing to pay $ 8 million per year for Soria is an indication that payroll could go further.
Kansas City had Madson on a bargain basement contract, while Holland made $ 8.25 million and was set to earn closer to $ 10 million before he was non-tendered. The two American League Central rivals have reinvested their savings back into their bullpens heading into the 2016 season, and they may not be done yet.
Update: Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press is reporting that Soria and the Royals will have a fourth mutual option year in his contract, as well as some performance bonuses.