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Rafael Soriano opts out of deal with Yankees

Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano will meet with

Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano will meet with Dr. James Andrews Wednesday in Pensacola, Fla., after undergoing another MRI Tuesday on his elbow. Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

The Yankees' closer situation became more uncertain Wednesday after Rafael Soriano opted out of his contract to become a free agent.

The move didn't catch anyone by surprise -- it was wholly expected by the Yankees.

But what did develop Wednesday was a difference of opinion on what was said Tuesday between Yankees president Randy Levine and Scott Boras, Soriano's agent.

"I had a conversation with Scott [Tuesday] and he told me that he was confident he could get $15 [million] for four [years], and that's why he wanted to test the market," Levine said Wednesday afternoon by phone. "On that basis, I can understand why he would opt out."

Boras disputed he had given a figure.

"I never make promises as to what the free-agent market might bear," the agent told "I'm in the business of providing information to my clients and negotiating on their behalf. I'm not in the business of promising my clients contracts."

Few in the industry think a four-year, $60-million deal for Soriano is realistic but, as the age-old saying goes, "it only takes one."

And the free-spending American League champion Detroit Tigers, unlikely to bring back the erratic Jose Valverde, should be shopping for a closer.

Levine and Boras worked together two offseasons ago in putting together Soriano's original three-year, $35-million deal -- over the objections of general manager Brian Cashman.

Soriano, who went 42-for-46 in save chances with a 2.26 ERA last season after taking over for the injured Mariano Rivera in early May, still may end up back in the Bronx in 2013.

The Yankees will make Soriano, who was due to make $14 million next season but will instead get a $1.5-million buyout for the final year of the deal, a qualifying offer of $13.3 million.

The qualifying offer assures the Yankees of getting a draft pick if Soriano signs with another team. And it was a no-brainer for Soriano to opt out because if he accepts the Yankees' qualifying offer, he will have given himself an $800,000 raise.

Although Levine and Boras offered different takes on their conversation, the Yankees are interested in retaining Soriano, at the right price.

"Yes, we'd love to have him back," Levine said.

Levine didn't go into specifics but indications are the Yankees would be open to exploring a two-year deal with Soriano.

Rivera, meanwhile, as of Wednesday, still had not informed the Yankees of his 2013 plans. The closer, who signed a two-year, $30-million deal two years ago, will turn 43 on Nov. 29. The Yankees want Rivera to return but may be reticent to invest that kind of money in an older player coming off major knee surgery.

Notes & quotes: The Yankees will donate $500,000 to the American Red Cross to support the relief efforts in the Tri-State area associated with superstorm Sandy. "The damage and destruction to the Tri-State area caused by Hurricane Sandy is daunting, but we have seen the great resiliency of this region before," managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. "As a neighbor and community member, the Yankees embrace our role of stepping forward and assisting the American Red Cross, which comes to the aid of so many people through their tireless efforts." . . . INF Casey McGehee elected free agency in lieu of accepting an outright assignment . . . The Yankees returned RHP Brad Meyers, selected by the Yankees in the 2011 Rule 5 draft, to the Nationals . . . Gil Patterson, the A's minor-league pitching coordinator, has joined the Yankees to take the same job, according to a source. Patterson, a first-round draft pick of the Yankees in 1975, interviewed for the pitching coach job that went to Larry Rothschild two offseasons ago.

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