After a three-year exile, relief pitcher Joakim Soria has rejoined the team for whom he was a two-time All-Star. The 31-year-old righty from Monclova has inked a three-year, $25 million contact with the world champion Kansas City Royals, who have a fourth-year option.
Soria was taken by the Royals from the San Diego organization with the second pick of the Rule V draft while he was standing the Mexican Pacific League on its head in 2006-07 with the Obregon Yaquis, for whom he went 9-1 (leading the loop in wins) with a 2.41 ERA in 13 starts, including a December 9 perfect game against Hermosillo. KC immediately moved him to the bullpen, where Soria went on to post save 160 games in 298 appearances for the Royals between 2007 and 2011, registering a 2.40 ERA and being selected for the 2008 and 2010 All-Star Games.
The road has been rockier after Soria missed the 2012 season following Tommy John surgery. In three seasons since, he's pitched for Texas, Detroit and Pittsburgh, going 6-5 with 42 saves and a 3.00 ERA. He pitched one scoreless inning with three strikeouts for the Pirates in this year's National League wild card playoff encounter against the Chicago Cubs. Closer Greg Holland was not offered a contract for 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery himself in October. Wade Davis is expected to inherit Holland's former role with Soria envisioned as a setup man for the Royals.
Shortly before the signing, Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore praised Soria: "He's very dedicated, has great control with effective pitches and has a tremendous presence in the clubhouse."