Surprised to see Alfonso Soriano in a Yankees uniform? That's not a Photoshop, either; it's from Game 2 of the 2003 World Series, one of the last games Soriano played in a Yankee uniform before he was traded to the Texas Rangers the following winter. (Soriano, still a second baseman then, homered in that game.)
What's most interesting to me is this: that photo's almost 10 years old, yet Soriano, to me, looks pretty much the same as he does now. He's recovered from multiple injuries, yet stayed in good shape, and is again having a good offensive season, though not close to his peak levels.
It does appear that Soriano will be headed to the Yankees soon; Paul Sullivan has the details:
"He asked for a couple days to think about it," Epstein said. "He said he’ll get back to us in a couple days and let us know where he’ll go, if anywhere, and then at that point it’s up to us if we want to move forward and finalize a deal." Soriano confirmed the Yankees are on the list of teams he would be willing to go to. He spoke with his family and said they "support me" in any decision he makes. "I’m 37," Soriano said. "I want one more chance to go to the World Series. If (the Cubs) don’t have that on their mind (and) they’re preparing the team for 2015 or 2016, it’s too late for me. At the same time, I try to be a champion here. If not, I’ve got to try and do that with another team." Would Soriano say no to the Yankees? "No, no, no, no," he said.
Trading Soriano to the Yankees makes a great deal of sense for both teams. It would help the Cubs get out from under some, though not all, of the (approximately) $25 million left on his contract. One rumor had the Yankees picking up all of this year's remaining salary, while the Cubs eat next year's, which would help keep the Yankees under the luxury-tax threshold.
The Yankees, with numerous injuries, could use a right-handed bat in the outfield; Soriano would likely split time between left field and DH. In 2014, he could transition more to full-time DH.
What would the Cubs get back in return? It probably depends on how the salary split is structured. Here's one rumor:
Also for what it's worth, if Soriano to #Yankees goes thru, player #Cubs had interest in previously was David Adams Not sure if in play here— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 23, 2013
The RH-hitting Adams is an infielder with good plate discipline; he's hit .296/.381/.452 in 1,470 minor-league at-bats, though he's not hit well in 35 big-league games this year (.190/.260/.276). He can play first base, second base and third base, and if he could hit at the big-league level, the Cubs could probably use a sub like that.
Sullivan's article further quotes Theo:
"We told him how much we respect him and appreciate everything he’s done here," he said. "And that there sometimes is a natural time to move on, to clear opportunities for young players, to get him into a pennant race with a chance to play every day. It’s his rights, so whatever he decides, we’re completely fine with it. We just wanted to outline it. "It seems like an appropriate time, if he is going to move on, to do it now. We can keep (Junior) Lake in the lineup a little bit while he’s hot. We’ve got (David) DeJesus back from the DL. (Brian Bogusevic) and (Ryan) Sweeney will be coming back, and we’re in a mode where we’re looking to give opportunities to young players."
It makes a great deal of sense for Soriano to give it another shot with the Yankees, who sit seven games out of first place but 3½ games behind the second wild card. It'll be a tough run for the Yankees to make it, but they're obviously closer than the Cubs are.
As Theo said, it seems the right time to make this deal. If Soriano does indeed say, "Go for it" to Theo, he'll leave the Cubs with two playoff appearances, though not the World Series we all wanted, and, as of this morning, a .264/.317/.495 line (110 OPS+) and 181 home runs in six and two-thirds seasons.
Good? Sure. Great? No. $18 million a year worth? Not really, but Soriano always took too much blame for the bad, not enough credit when he was going good. I'll wish him well if he departs.
Stay tuned for further developments.