Feb 8, 2021: Soria is likely to be the closer for the D-backs in 2021, but they're not saying that yet.
The 36-year-old Soria has 223 saves over 13 seasons and seems a natural fit in the closer's role, but the D-backs are going to head into Spring Training saying that he will compete with Stefan Crichton for the role. The D-backs turned to Crichton late last year and he compiled a 2.42 ERA over 26 games.
"I would say that he certainly has the most experience," D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. "I think he is going to have every opportunity to compete for that role or get into that role. I would be shocked if he doesn't get appearances in the ninth inning. We want to see how guys come in. You know Crichton finished up the season in that role. I don't want to just strip that away without having seen him pitch again coming into Spring Training. I don't think that's entirely fair." (S Gilbert - MLB.com - Feb 8, 2021)
|Birth City:||Monclova, Mexico|
|Draft:||2001 - Dodgers - Free agent|
Soria grew up in Monclova, a steel-mill town in northern Mexico where he lived next to a large field. "My parents wanted to make the field into something for the neighborhood, but they couldn't decide if it would be for soccer or baseball," Joakim said. "When I was 6, they made it a baseball field, so I played baseball."
Soria grew up in Mexico with traveling summer teams where he pitched against 32-year-old former pros when he was 13.
Joakim's brother and sister are dentists. That’s what he’d be doing, too, if he couldn’t place his fastball at the knees and break off nasty breaking pitches, and it starts to make sense, right? His appointments are the ninth innings of close games and he treats the whole thing with all the stress of a routine visit.
Joakim's father was a middle-school math teacher.
In 2007, Baseball America rated Soria as the 13th-best prospect in the Royals organization.
During the 2007 All-Star break, on July 10, Joakim was married to the former Karla Palazuelos in a beachfront ceremony at San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.
Joakim stayed in Kansas City during the winter before 2010 spring training, working with Royals' strength and conditioning coordinator Ty Hill. Much of the focus was on strengthening Soria's shoulder.
On January 8, 2010, Soria's wife, Karla, delivered daughter Angela. "I love being a father," Soria said during 2010 spring training.
Joakim's parents live in Monclova, Mexico, just a 9-hour drive from Dallas. So when he signed with the Rangers for 2013 and 2014, it meant more family visits for the Sorias.
Soria was at one time nicknamed The Mexicutioner. But in 2011, he stated that he no longer wanted to be associated with that nickname due to violence in his home country.
It was on December 9th 2006 in the Mexican Pacific Winter League. Soria was on the mound against the Naranjeros de Hermosillo, one of the league’s most historically successful teams, with 16 titles under their belt. His perfect game was only the third ever in the MXPW. Soria could have let the fame go to his head, but then he wouldn’t have continued to live out a baseball dream. (atrolf@fatrolf Feb 25, 2019)
Soria is proud of his heritage. After playing in the Mexican Winter League and the Mexican Baseball League (“Liga Mexicana de Béisbol”) as a youngster, he was given the honor of representing Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in 2017. The previous tournament, Soria had been recovering from his Tommy John surgery and wasn’t able to represent, so being healthy the next time around was huge for him. Soria is also a big fan of Selección Nacional de México (the Mexican National soccer team). (atrolf@fatrolf - Feb 25, 2019)
Feb 8, 2021: Soria, who was born in Monclova, Mexico, makes his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., which made pitching for the D-backs even more attractive.
"They have always been a team that I put in my mind," Soria said. "The fact that we’re a Hispanic community. I think I can have an impact in the Hispanic community, not just playing baseball but outside, too. Being close to Mexico, I like the fact that I can see my parents coming to the stadium and see all the people there. Plus, I live here in Arizona, which makes it way easier for my family, especially in these times. It’s crazy, the world is a little crazy, I’d rather be with my family than be out there." (S Gilbert - MLB.com - Feb 8, 2021)
October 2001: Dodgers scout Mike Brito signed Joakim, out of Mexico.
2004: The Dodgers released Soria after he pitched in just four games in the Dominican Summer League. He had pitched in only four games in the United States during this three years in the Dodgers farm system.
December 7, 2006: The Royals chose Soria out of the Padres' organization during the Rule 5 Draft at the MLB Winter Meetings.
December 9, 2006: Just two days after being picked by the Royals in the Rule 5 Draft, Joakim pitched a perfect game during winter ball in Obregon’s 6-0 victory over Hermosillo in the Mexican Pacific League. He struck out nine and threw just 101 pitches.
May 17, 2008: Soria agreed to a three-year extension with the Royals for $8.7 with club options for three more years that could boost the deal’s value to $30.7 million if he remains a reliever. (Soria’s deal is a straight extension that didn’t affect his 2008 salary of $426,500.)
October 31, 2012: The Royals did not exercise their option on Soria, so he became a free agent.
December 3, 2012: Soria signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Rangers.
July 23, 2014: The Rangers sent Soria to the Tigers. And the Tigers sent the Rangers two of their top five prospects in sinker-balling starter Jake Thompson (ranked third, according to MLB.com) and former University of Texas closer Corey Knebel (fifth).
October 31, 2014: The Tigers picked up Soria's $7 million option for 2015.
July 30, 2015: The Pirates acquired Soria from the Tigers in exchange for SS Jacoby Jones.
December 7, 2015: Joakim signed a three-year, $25 million deal with the Royals.
Jan. 4, 2018: The Dodgers, Royals, and White Sox pulled off a three-way trade that lands lefty reliever Scott Alexander in Los Angeles and sends Joakim Soria to Chicago. Also, lefthander Luis Avilan goes from the Dodgers to Chicago, along with cash considerations.
July 26, 2018: The White Sox traded cash and RHP Joakim Soria to the Brewers for LHP Kodi Medeiros and RHP Wilber Perez.
Oct 30, 2018: Soria chose free agency.
Dec 21, 2018: The A's signed free agent Soria.
Oct 28, 2020: Soria elected free agency.
- Feb. 3, 2021: The Diamondbacks signed Soria to a one-year deal for $3.5 million, with $500,000 in appearance incentives.
Soria has a lively 91-96 mph four-seam FASTBALL with late movement, an 80-84 mph SLIDER, a slow 70-72 mph CURVE, and a very good 87-90 mph CHANGEUP that he will use at any time in the count.
Soria is known for tossing up an occasional slow curveball at about 69-72 mph, but he says he won't go as extreme as former Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla, who had a curve that registers about 50-53 mph.
In 2007, the overall .187 batting average allowed by Soria set a Royals franchise record for any pitcher to appear in at least 65 innings.
"It like floats, it's real slow," Joakim said. "It's really rare." Vin Scully named the pitch the "soap bubble" because it floats out like a bubble from a kid's wire blower. "The batters freak out because he's been throwing hard, hard, and hard . . . and you go with his slow one. They get out of balance and timing and everything," Soria said. (Dick Kaegel-MLB.com-8/14/10)
Joakim exhibits excellent mound presence.
He keeps the ball low in the strike zone. And he willingly pitches inside.
Soria can either start or relieve, but he is clear in his preference: "I want to be a starter."
Even when closing, Soria pitched a lot like a starter, establishing his fastball early and mixing in various other pitches—in 2011, he showed four off-speed pitches—but still getting most of his swings and misses on the four-seamer and the cutter. That deception would have played well in the rotation, but after two elbow ligament replacement surgeries, Soria is probably destined to finish his career in the bullpen.
Joakim gets much of his success because of his excellent control and because he has a lot of deception in his delivery.
May 30, 2011: Soria lost his job as the Royals' closer after he blew his fifth save of the season. Aaron Crow replaced him, but just for a while. What went wrong? Yost put the blame on mechanical glitches in Soria's delivery.
"Just not getting down and finishing your pitches," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "When he finishes his pitches, his command is as impeccable as anybody in the league. He just got out of whack and struggled to get the ball down. Which flattens the ball out, makes the ball look bigger, easier to hit."
Which is why Soria gave up career highs in hits (60), runs (29), and home runs (7).
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 63% of the time; Change 17.2% of the time; Slider 8.2%; and Curve 11.3% of the time.
- 2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 49.8% of the time; Change 31.2% of the time; Slider 6.8%; and Curve 12.3% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 66.4% of the time; Sinker less than 1%; Change less than 1%; Slider 10.7%; his Curve 8%; and Split 13.8% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93 mph, Sinker 92.2, Change 85, Slider 79, Curve 70.9, and Split 87.6 mph.
- 2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 66.9% of the time; Sinker 1.2%; Change 1.2%; Slider 12%; his Curve 12.8%; and Split 5.9% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93.1 mph, Sinker 92.9, Change 85.2, Slider 81.8, Curve 73.5, and Split 88.5 mph.
- 2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 66.3% of the time; Change less than 1%; Slider 16.4%; his Curve 8.1%; and Split 9% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 92.8 mph, Change 87.8, Slider 78.5, Curve 73, and Split 87.6 mph.
June 25, 2019: Joakim made his 674th career appearance during a win over the Cardinals, passing Dennys Reyes for the most by a Mexican-born player.
Soria’s teammates and coaches celebrated the milestone on June 26, 2019. Manager Bob Melvin called the team together and fellow bullpen member Liam Hendriks presented Soria with a cake with a Mexican flag with 674 on it. “You have to be healthy,” Soria said. “You have to be in the big leagues. You have to perform. You have to be in the best level of baseball so it means a lot.” (Harris - mlb.com)
2020 Season: Soria was awesome in 2020. He threw just 22 1⁄3 innings due to the shortened season, but still accumulated 0.5 fWAR and a 2.97 FIP. In fact, his FIP was better than that of guys like Kenley Jansen and Pete Fairbanks.
Statcast backs up Soria’s impressive year with an expected ERA of 2.76, landing him in the top 8% of the league. Soria potentially losing steam on his fastball does not concern me either. Since 2015, his fastball velocity has never fallen below 92.8 mph or reached above 93.3 mph. His four-seamer has been as reliable as they come, despite the worries about age. Outside of an unforeseen circumstance, I’d expect this trend to continue. (Michael J Walsh - Dec 19, 2020)
2020 Season: Soria could be a strong veteran candidate for the D-backs’ closer role. He has earned 223 saves in his 13-year career, including two last year in the second of his two seasons with the A's. The right-hander, a two-time All-Star, has a 3.01 ERA across 725.2 career innings.
While Soria’s All-Star Game nods came in his earlier days with the Royals, he proved in 2020 that he can still be a valuable back-end contributor. He finished the abbreviated campaign with a 2.82 ERA in 22 appearances, allowing just one homer across 96 batters faced for Oakland’s MLB-best bullpen. Soria also stood out when it came to advanced metrics; he finished among baseball’s top 10% of qualified pitchers in Statcast’s barrel rate against, expected weighted on-base (xwOBA) and expected ERA metrics.
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Soria has a career record of 35-41 with 3.01 ERA, having allowed 61 home runs and 594 hits in 725 innings, with 791 strike outs and 223 saves out of 276 opportunities (80.8%).
- 2003: Soria missed the entire season after Tommy John surgery.
- May 23-June 6, 2007: Joakim was on the D.L. with inflammation in his right shoulder.
- May 8-June 2, 2009: Soria was on the D.L. with shoulder soreness. He had tried to pitch through it, but the pain worsened.
- September 12-end of 2011 season: Joakim missed the last 14 games because of a pulled right hamstring, sustained while notching a save at Seattle. That cost him a chance to match Dan Quisenberry as the only Royals' reliever to have 30 or more saves in four consecutive seasons.
April 3, 2012: Soria underwent a second Tommy John surgery. Elbow specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum performed the surgery at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles. Soria made the decision after considering his options for a few days.
"It's always a challenge, even the first time," Soria said, "but right now, I'm feeling good. My mind is clear now, and I've just got to work hard, even harder than I was before, to get better and get out of this."
So Joakim missed the entire 2012 season.
March 22-July 7, 2013: Soria began the season on the D.L. while still recovering from the Tommy John surgery.
August 10-Sept. 10, 2014: Joakim was on the D.L. with a strained muscle in his left side—a strained left oblique. He injured it while warming up in the bullpen.
August 18-Sept 16, 2017: Soria was on the DL with a left oblique strain. Joakim had been dealing with stiffness in his lat and ribcage area.
"He's been battling with it for two weeks. He's been pitching through it. He's been pitching very effectively through it,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said.
- Aug 10-24, 2018: Soria was on the DL with right quadriceps strain.