Rafael Soriano appears poised to leave the New York Yankees, and Ervin Santana is headed to Kansas City.
Soriano opted out of the final year of his $35 million, three-year contract Wednesday and will likely seek a long-term deal in free agency. The right-hander had 42 saves for the Yankees last season after longtime closer Mariano Rivera tore knee ligaments in early May.
Soriano was set to make $14 million next season and had until Wednesday to opt out. Instead, New York will pay him a $1.5 million buyout. The Yankees can make him a qualifying offer of $13.3 million before Friday's 11:59 p.m. EDT deadline and if Soriano signs with another team, they will get draft compensation.
"I'm not surprised because (agent) Scott Boras told me he was confident he could get him 15 times four (years), $60 million. If that's the case, it would be a good deal for Soriano," Yankees president Randy Levine told The Associated Press. "I hope that's what's real in the marketplace."
Soriano, who will be 33 in December, signed his hefty contract with New York before the 2011 season after notching a career-high 45 saves with Tampa Bay. He began his stint with the Yankees as a setup man, then took over as closer when Rivera was injured.
The Kansas City Royals made their first move toward shoring up their shaky rotation, acquiring Santana from the Los Angeles Angels for minor-league reliever Brandon Sisk.
Santana was an All-Star in 2008 and threw a no-hitter in 2011, but struggled with the long ball this year. He allowed a major league-worst 39 homers and went 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA - although he showed improvement in the second half of the season.
"We were able to scout Ervin during the entire year, specifically the second half," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "His August and September were really good. From a statistical standpoint, he was very good."
Moore said the Royals are paying "the majority" of Santana's $13 million deal. The Angels had exercised their $13 million option before trading the Dominican veteran and cash to the Royals.
The Royals, however, declined their $8 million club option on closer Joakim Soria after he had elbow ligament-replacement surgery and missed last season. Soria will receive a $750,000 buyout.
Even though Soria, a two-time All-Star with 160 saves in five seasons, is a free agent, both sides have expressed interest in working out a new contract.
All-Stars David Wright ($16 million) and R.A. Dickey ($5 million) had their contract options picked up by the New York Mets. General manager Sandy Alderson has said signing the two players to long-term deals is his top priority this offseason.
The wild-card Baltimore Orioles exercised their $1 million option on right-handed reliever Luis Ayala but declined an $11 million option on first baseman Mark Reynolds.
Reynolds, who hit .221 with 23 homers and 69 RBI in 135 games, will get a $500,000 buyout, and remains under club control through the arbitration process.
The Cleveland Indians exercised their $5.75 million option on pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. Also, the team declined its options on designated hitter Travis Hafner ($13 million) and starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez ($6 million), formerly known as Fausto Carmona.
The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up their option on 25-year-old third baseman Pedro Alvarez ($700,000) and parted ways with catcher Rod Barajas, who had a $3.5 million option. The Pirates have another $700,000 option on Alvarez for 2014.
Pittsburgh also released reliever Hisanori Takahashi, who posted an 8.64 ERA in nine appearances.
In Toronto, the Blue Jays exercised their $3 million option on left-handed reliever Darren Oliver and signed outfielder Rajai Davis to a one-year, $2.5 million contract after declining the option on his previous two-year deal.
Davis hit .257 with 24 doubles, eight home runs, 43 RBI and 46 stolen bases this year. The Blue Jays held a $3 million option for 2013 with a $500,000 buyout.