Earlier this month, we mentioned Alfonso Soriano’s recent resurgence with the Chicago Cubs. After a slow start to the season, Soriano began heating up before the All-Star break. Since then, he’s continued his power surge, hitting another home run and driving in two runs in the Cubs’ last series against Colorado. With 17 home runs on the season, teams’ attention will continue to turn in his direction as the trade deadline nears.
The Cubs are hoping to sell at the trade deadline—that much is known. Since we last checked in on the outfielder, interest in him was a bit unknown. But one team that is apparently hot on his trail is the New York Yankees, per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Interest doesn’t seem casual, either, considering that the Yankees have scouts attending the Cubs’ current road trip in Arizona – presumably to check in on the outfielder. That’s certainly no guarantee Soriano is a lock to be dealt to New York, but it could be a sign the Yankees are getting more serious about Soriano.
More intriguing is that the deal may not even happen by the trade deadline.
Trades can still happen after the deadline as long as players pass through waivers. As Wittenmyer mentions, Soriano’s high price tag could mean that happens. Not only is the outfielder due approximately $7 million more for the rest of 2013, but his contract calls for him to receive $18 million in 2014. That $25 million could mean he gets through waivers and ends up being traded to New York sometime in August.
One hurdle with a deal to New York is that Soriano has a full no trade clause and can veto any deal. However, the ability to play for a contender could be a factor for Soriano when he has to consider waiving his no trade clause.
Keep in mind this is a deal that, on the surface, would make good sense for the Yankees. Unlike the addition of other players who sometimes wilt under the pressure of playing in New York, Soriano has already proven that shouldn’t be an issue. Playing for the Yankees from 1999 – 2003, the slugger turned into an All-Star under the bright lights of the City. Over his last two seasons in New York, Soriano hit 77 home runs and drove in 193 runs. His 209 hits, 129 runs, and 41 stolen bases led the league in 2002 and Soriano proved the spotlight didn’t bother him one bit. In Soriano, the Yankees would get a player used to playing under the considerable microscope of the New York media.
Just as importantly, New York would be a good fit for Soriano simply because they’re in desperate need of offense. Heading into this week, the Yankees ranked 20th in the majors in runs and also in the bottom third of the league in batting average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage. If Soriano stays hot, he could revive an offense in need of a boost.
If Soriano joined the team, he’d automatically become the club’s best long ball threat in the outfield. New York has better hitters including Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki, but neither of those two players, nor the third outfielder, Vernon Wells, can touch Soriano’s 17 home runs. Wells currently has the most with only ten round-trippers this season and one thing that’s been sorely missing in New York’s outfield is power.
Should Soriano become a Yankee, it’s almost assured he would gain a starting spot immediately. There’s plenty to figure out, but the most likely move is seeing Soriano replace Wells as the team’s left fielder with Wells heading to the bench to split time with Travis Hafner at designated hitter. Soriano himself could also be an option at DH when he needs a break from the field.
Soriano is owed a great deal of money between this year and next, but if he continues to produce as he has over the past month, his contract seems much more reasonable. Should he find a new home in the second half of the baseball season, the Yankees would be a good fit.