When Mariano Rivera went down in early May,  Joe Girardi handed the closer role over to Rafael Soriano. Forty-six times, Soriano entered the game in a save situation, and only 4 times did he leave the mound with his shirt still bloused out neatly from inside his pants.

NoMaas killed the Yankees for the Soriano signing in January of 2011. We didn’t like giving multi-year deals to relievers (non-Mariano division), and we hated the idea of giving $35 mil to Soriano to be a middle reliever. But, after a season where Soriano stepped into the breach to post 42 saves, 4 holds, over a strikeout per inning, and a 2.26 ERA over 67.2 innings…

We still hate it. Fangraphs values Soriano’s 2012 effort at 1.2 WAR/$5.5 mil. Think that’s some saber-b.s? Okay. There’s a case to be made that Soriano was worth more to the Yankees, whose place on the win curve means that those marginal wins are a bit more valuable. Additionally, WAR for a reliever should be taken with a grain of salt. But, there’s no way that Soriano was worth the $11 mil he was paid for this season. Remember, if the Yankees didn’t have Soriano, it’s not like those 42 saves just go away. They would have had David Robertson (2.67 ERA/1.7 WAR) in the closer’s role — not much of a step down there, if any.  And, of course, they would have had an extra $11 mil to spend in areas of greater need, like the starting rotation. (It just so happens that the Nationals signed Edwin Jackson before the season to a one year deal worth…$11 mil.) And this doesn’t even factor in the $10 mil the Yankees paid Soriano in 2011 for his replacement level work.

We’re happy that Soriano came through for the team and turned in such a strong performance. We’re positively delighted that it will lead to Scott Boras instructing his client to opt out of his contract. The Yankees should thank him for his service, hand him his $1.5 mil buyout check, and usher him out the stadium turnstiles. They should also do it while Randy Levine is in the head, so that the Yankee president and Boras patron can’t offer him another fatuous multi-year deal.

There is one more interesting choice for the Yankees here: should they offer Soriano a qualifying offer of one-year at $13.3 mil? If they make the offer and Soriano turns it down to sign elsewhere, the Yankees will receive a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the amateur draft. The risk is that Soriano accepts the offer and the Yankees end up paying him $13.3 plus the $1.5 mil buyout to be a setup man next year (we are presuming that Mariano will be back).

We say the Yanks should make the qualifying offer. The likelihood of another team offering Soriano is high. Heath Bell just got $27 mil over three years last offseason. Soriano is coming off a high-profile, dominant year. Scott Boras knows what he’s doing. And Soriano wants to find a team where he can be assured of having the closer’s job.

So from all your friends here at NoMaas… Gracias, Rafi. And Adios.