Posted July 26, 2013

Alfonso Soriano trade a no-brainer for Yankees and Cubs

Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees
Alfonso Soriano, Yankees

Alfonso Soriano broke in with the Yankees in 1999 and made two All-Star teams with New York. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Alfonso Soriano is old (37), expensive (owed $18 million both this year and next) and only marginally valuable (a 0.7 bWAR this year). To a rebuilding team like the Cubs, he was an albatross. To an old, expensive team just 2 1/2 games out of the wild-card race like the Yankees, however, that marginal value might just be worth the cost, particularly given that New York has dropped well below replacement level at Soriano’s primary position in leftfield.

Soriano began his career as a Yankee, left on good terms in the February 2004 trade for Alex Rodriguez, and, as a 10-and-5 player with the right to reject any trade, was open to returning to New York. That, along with the brutal performance of the Yankees leftfielders and righthanded hitters, made a deal sending Soriano, who addresses both of those problems, back to the Bronx a no-brainer. Indeed, that deal is now official, with the Cubs due to receive Class-A right-hander Corey Black and the Yankees picking up $6.8 million of the money owed to Soriano over the remainder of this year and next, when his eight-year, $136 million contract finally expires.

If that return seems underwhelming to Cubs fans, let me put it this way: The Yankees gave Chicago $6.8 million and a pitching prospect for Alfonso Soriano. Yes, the Cubs still owe Soriano almost $18 million, but they weren’t going to do any better anywhere else. In fact, given Soriano’s veto (he nixed a trade to the Giants a year ago), there was little to no chance of Chicago finding any other team that would both need Soriano and to which he would be willing to go.

And the Yankees do need Soriano. Their leftfielders have hit .223/.268/.330 this season. Their righthanded hitters have hit .221/.283/.311. Vernon Wells, who has hit .240/.288/.366 on the season and .192/.232/.231 since hitting his last home run on May 15, leads the Yankees in at-bats in both categories.

Soriano has hit .254/.287/.467 this season and arrives in the Bronx hot. In 21 games since June 28 he has hit .286/.330/.714 with 10 home runs, giving him 17 on the season. Even with that miserable .287 on-base percentage, which bests only 13 qualified hitters this season, Soriano should be a huge boost to the Yankees, whose team OPS in those splits (.598 in leftfield, .594 by righthanders) are among the worst you can find in Baseball-Reference’s searchable Play Index (though such historical split info is far from complete).

JAFFE: Yankees trying to bring back Alfonso Soriano to provide righty pop

As for Black, the 21-year-old righthander was a fourth-round pick from last year’s draft out of Alabama’s Faulkner University and has gone 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA in 19 starts for High-A Tampa this season. Black is a bit undersized but, per SB Nation’s John Sickels, his fastball sits in the mid-90s as a starter, and while none of his secondary pitches impresses, he does have three of them (curve, slider, change) and mixes them well. Given his size, the control problems he has had this season (4.9 BB/9), and the fact that he can hit triple-digits in short stints, Black’s ultimate destination is probably the bullpen, but, again, the Cubs could have done worse than a live arm and nearly $7 million of salary relief. They could have been stuck with Soriano.

23 comments
michaelo409
michaelo409

Just what the Yankees need - another old, expensive and underachieving player.  The Yankees should cut a deal with Geritol! 

CatherineTrotta
CatherineTrotta

Idiot Cashman traded Soriano to pick up that BUM A-Rod. What a mistake.

Nate_the_Great
Nate_the_Great

Those people saying that the Cubs got "hosed' and "fleeced" don't know what the Cubs are trying to do. There is no reason to keep a 37 year old OF/DH on a losing ballclub and they aren't going to get anything significant anyways, it was best to move him while they could so that they can evaluate their younger talent in the minors.

Lon
Lon

I agree; Epstein & Co. got fleeced.  They paid around $20M for a class A farm hand that might make the majors some day as a middle reliever and lost a club house leader who is one of their two middle of the order power hitters for one and a half seasons.

6marK6
6marK6

I have no idea how a Yankee fan could be upset with this deal. You gave up nothing and the Cubs are footing most of the bill. What are you upset about? Soriano can still swing a bat and you need some production. The Cubs are the ones that got hosed.

nunEEE6
nunEEE6

Another day, another washed up former star back in the Bronx. What a completely boring, tedious, and downright pathetic approach Cashman has. If you think it's not all about business with the Yankees these days, you're crazy. All these big names from 15 years ago to try to attract fans and one of the worst offenses in the league. Last two years have seen Eric Chavez, Ibanez (although he's a personal favorite), Andruw Jones, Casey McGehee, Ichiro, Youkilis, Hafner, Wells, Overbay, and now Soriano. If you're a former star with a big name and washed up, the Yankees want YOU!

crescentparkfe
crescentparkfe

Weird thing is A-rod was suppose to be the one to replace Soriano in 2004. A-Fraud ended up 10 times worse trouble for the Yankees than Alfonso Soriano.

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

If I'd known this article was by stats-geek "WAR is the Only Stat That Counts" Cliffу, І wouldn't have read it.

Are you listening, SI poo-bahs?

RobOlds
RobOlds

@CatherineTrotta Cashman advised Yankee management to not make the trade.  It was Hal Steinbrenner who overruled Cashman and ordered the trade to be made.

6marK6
6marK6

@Nate_the_Great OK, but they are paying $18 million of his contract and got nothing in return. That is a bad deal, Heck, the Rangers might have given you a player with potential if they knew you would pay his contract. The Cubs did not make a "good" deal,

NoQNoSuperBowl
NoQNoSuperBowl

@6marK6 I agree. Even if Soriano doesn't make things better he damn sure won't make them worse.

jamie11230
jamie11230

@crescentparkfe It was a great trade for the Yankees, with Texas picking up a big part of A Rod's salary, and him clearly outperforming Soriano from 2004 to 2007.  The Yankees' mistake was in signing him to a new deal after he opted out in 2007.

marino.eccher
marino.eccher

@MidwestGolfFan And it was awful how he went on and on about WAR in the article, not even mentioning things like batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, ERA, wins and losses or K/BB! Talk about myopic!

ibeiandubeu
ibeiandubeu

@guzman1000 @Lon If that was the only "deal" they could make then imo they should have passed on it.  It's not like Sori was another Milton Bradley...and at least he provided some excitement.  In this instance it seems youth and unknown potential trumps experience and stability.   

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

@Streetwise @MidwestGolfFan  

The link was "blind," with no author name.  I thought it was an AP puff-piece.  I suspect Cliffy is having problems getting hits.  At least, I most certainly hope so.