I guess the Atlanta Braves should be flattered that Rafael Soriano wants to remain in a Braves uniform, but with the recent signings of Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, the Braves seem to be saying they would rather Soriano not return. Atlanta has presumably spent all of its allocated budget on the bullpen, so Soriano's presence, if he were to accept arbitration, would likely not last long, as the Braves would be inclined to trade him rather than pay him.
SI.com's Jon Heyman is reporting that Soriano is leaning towards accepting arbitration. This flies in the face of what he reported earlier in the week, that Soriano would certainly reject arbitration. Since then we've had different reporters referencing different sources about what Soriano's decision will be. By the way, he has until midnight Monday night to decide.
All this begs the question, why would Soriano accept arbitration? Is it purely because he thinks he can make more money in one season? The most he would get by accepting arbitration is around $8 million, but in the free agent market he could likely get close to that per year for three to four years -- ensuring much more guaranteed money. Furthermore, Soriano must know that the Braves may not be able to afford to keep him and will trade him. With the ability to more closely control what team he ends up with through free agency, why would he give away that control by accepting arbitration and allowing the Braves to trade him wherever they please?
Accepting arbitration just doesn't make any sense. This is why I have a hard time believing some of this hype. It feels like a technique that his agent is using to stir up more interest in his client, or to get his client signed sooner rather than later, though I don't see him signing with another team tomorrow (but you never know).
Ken Rosenthal is supposed to have something on Soriano shortly, so we'll see if his info is any clearer about our reliever's course of action.
[UPDATE: 12/7 @ 11am]
Something I just learned about the Braves flexibility to trade Soriano were he to accept arbitration, under MLB rules Soriano could not be traded until June 1 without his permission. This certainly would complicate things, unless Soriano is simply looking for an arbitration pay day and doesn't care where he ends up. Mark Bowman and others have also mentioned that the Braves could release him in spring training because his contract is non-guaranteed, but that scenario makes my head hurt, as the Braves would have to to show just cause in doing so.