As a fan of both the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees, I cannot help but wonder if a deal moving left fielder Alfonso Soriano from Wrigley Field to Yankee Stadium would benefit both teams as well as Soriano.
Cubs could move him
First, the Cubs are rebuilding. I believe that they need and already have the right mix of youth and experience. Besides Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs’ outfield contains Tony Campana and Brett Jackson in the youth department. David DeJesus, Nate Scheirholtz, and Scott Hairston represent the experience. Those names will not scare opposing pitchers, but they will provide stability until Jackson and prospect Jorge Soler become full-time Major Leaguers.
Yankees need a right-handed DH.
Next, the Yankees just do not go into rebuilding mode. They play to win “now” every year. After the Yankees signed left-handed power hitter Travis Hafner to DH from the left side (January 31), they still have a need for a right-handed DH. Hafner will replace Raul Ibanez, who played hero at the end of 2012 and in the postseason. He did not hit much against left-handed pitchers, though. That job went to Andruw Jones, who left for Japan. The Yankees are still in the market for his replacement as of February 9.
Soriano’s 2012 season
Alfonso Soriano just finished his best season as a Cub since signing a mega deal in 2007. He hit .262 with 32 home runs and a career-high 108 RBI for a team that struggled to score runs all season. That .262 came after a .237 April, and those 32 home runs started in mid-May. In my opinion, he silenced critics who wondered if he was finished as a run producer – at least this one critic for sure. He showed that he can still hit for a decent average and good power. Long gone are his days of 30+ steals, but he played a much better left field in 2012 than he did at any other time since moving there in 2006 for the Washington Nationals. He regained an acceptable WAR of 1.8 and WPA of 2.1 for a team that won only 61 games.
Salary and other restrictions
This big hold up is Alfonso Soriano’s salary. The Cubs still owe him $36 million for 2013 and 2014. They might pay a large chunk of that money to make a deal possible. Soriano, though, has a no-trade clause and 10-5 status, so he can veto any trade. He also likes playing left field and would likely not want to DH – especially part-time. In addition, even though the Yankees could afford it, would their general manager, Brian Cashman, want to pay a part-time player that much money – or even whatever the Cubs will not pay? Cashman has expressed his desire to reduce his team’s payroll.
Good move for both teams
A trade of Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs to the Yankees would benefit both teams. It would give the Yankees the right-handed bat they need to win this year, and it would open a roster spot on the Cubs that their developing outfielders can fill. They could gain some valuable Major League experience as the team builds toward contention in the near future. If Cashman and Cubs’ GM Jed Hoyer could work out a deal, then I would like to see it happen – preferably before Opening Day.
Baseball Reference, Alfonso Soriano Player Page, baseball-reference.com
Bryan Hoch, Hafner, Yankees Finalize One-Year Contract, yankees.mlb.com, January 31, 2013.
Chicago Cubs, Active Roster, cubs.mlb.com as of February 9, 2013.
Chicago Cubs, Alfonso Soriano Player Page, cubs.mlb.com.
Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. His favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Follow Raymond on [email protected]