As the off-season continues to roll on at a breakneck pace, it seems as if the Yankees have become lost in the shuffle. Sure – there’s the odd rumor here or there … yet little of substance has arisen beyond the re-inking of Messrs Pettitte, Rivera, and Kuroda. Still, it is a foregone conclusion that the Yankees are very much in need of a right-handed bat with a bit of oomph, and Cody Ross may well be boarding a plane to Arizona as I type. At the cost of 3-years and $26 MM, I cannot help but be somewhat glad that Ross was never in the cards … and yet here we are, righty-less.
Enter the Chicago Cubs, and old friend Alfonso Soriano.
It is no secret that the Cubs have been actively shopping Alfonso Soriano – and, per Jon Heyman, they are willing to eat $26 MM of the $36 MM owed to the former Yankee over the next two seasons (in the right deal, of course). Now, everyone knows that Soriano has been fairly overpaid these past few seasons … but does that mean he has been a subpar player? Not in the least.
Over the past three seasons, Soriano’s production has been as follows:
2010 – .258/.322/.496, 24 HR, 114 wRC+
2011 – .244/.289/.469, 26 HR, 101 wRC+
2012 – .262/.322/.499, 32 HR, 116 wRC+
Deserving of $18 MM or so per season? Absolutely not. Worthy of a spot in a corner outfield or DH platoon? Definitely. For $5 MM per season? Sign me up.
With the outfield as is being comprised of three left-handed hitters with a mixed track record of success against same-handed pithing, Soriano’s success against southpaws might be the key factor in considering any such move. So how has Soriano fared recently? Quite well.
2010 – 149 wRC+ v. LHP, 99 v. RHP
2011 – 111 wRC+ v. LHP, 98 v. RHP
2012 – 117 wRC+ v. LHP, 116 v. RHP
Why, pray tell, do I include his split against righties? I’m glad you asked (and, yes, you did). Looking once more to the outfield, the need for a bit more insurance than a “true” lefty masher like Ross or Scott Hairston would offer becomes very clear. Brett Gardner is coming off of a lost season, in a short career that has been plagued with inconsistencies and nagging injuries. Ichiro Suzuki is 39, and has hit .277/.308/.361 over the past two seasons … and I’m not sure that 240 PA of solid play with the Yankees should make us forget that. And Curtis Granderson might just be more of a trade chip than any of us know (or not, I just didn’t feel right leaving him out).
With that in mind, does it not make an awful lot of sense to have a fourth outfielder that can fill-in admirably against any pitcher, regardless of handedness?
In a vacuum, Soriano makes a great deal of sense, even beyond his more than respectable offensive production. His defense appears solid in the corners, he is quite familiar with the demands of playing in the Bronx, and (sigh) he will fit in well with the ‘veteran presence’ type model that the organization loves. Truth be told, I cannot think of a single reason why Soriano would not be an excellent addition to this Yankees team, nor do I think he is likely to decline precipitously over the next two seasons.
I will not pretend to know what sort of return the Cubs are looking for to kick-in such a substantial amount of cash, but I do know that the Yankees have some organizational depth on the mound and up the middle – and I trust that such a move wouldn’t require a pillaging of the farm. So long as the return is befitting of a platoon bat or fourth outfielder and not a “30 home run, 100 RBI player,” I would be quite happy to see this reunion – sentimentally, and from an analytical perspective … the best of both worlds.