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Yankees sign Soriano in bid to strengthen bullpen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Yankees signed free agent reliever Rafael Soriano, giving the team one of the top late-inning relief combinations, according to a report on Major League Baseball's (MLB) official website on Friday.

Soriano, who led the American League with 45 saves in 48 attempts last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, has to pass a physical before his three-year, $35 million contract can be officially announced, MLB said on their website (www.mlb.com).

The 31-year-old right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic is expected to be a setup man for longtime Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and fill in as the closer on days when the fellow All-Star is unavailable to pitch.

Soriano could also become the Yankees closer after the two-year contract Rivera signed in December expires.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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