Desperately Seeking (Alfonso) Soriano

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.

Aah, memories.

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.

Domenic is a staff writer for It's About the Money, and the host of the It's About the Yankees Stupid podcast. By day, he is a mild-mannered real estate attorney on Long Island.

11 thoughts on “Desperately Seeking (Alfonso) Soriano

  1. Duh, Innings!

    Soriano posted 32 HR and 108 RBI last year, he’s not a platoon bat or a fourth outfielder. He would be the biggest righthanded power threat in the Yanks lineup and the PERFECT veteran DH who could back up in LF and RF. I say bring him back.

    Ichiro
    Jeter
    Cano
    Soriano
    Teixiera
    Granderson
    Youkilis
    Romine
    Gardner

    The above lineup would’ve been 7/9ths homegrown had the Yanks re-signed Melky Cabrera for RF, passed on Youkilis and made Nunez the 3B, and reacquired Soriano for DH, 8/9ths homegrown had they traded Granderson and re-signed Juan Rivera for RF (Cabrera LF), all homegrown had they traded Teixiera and half his remaining salary to Seattle for Montero (1B.)

  2. Yankee Insider

    Soriano would be a great addition but with $10m over the next two seasons I see the Yankees front loading the $10m and paying about 1st: $8m 2nd: 2. He would be a fan favorite and a corner OF (backup), 2B backup, and RH part of DH. It would be better than wells because soriano can hit for average .250-280 with 30 HR instead of wells hitting .230 15HR. Also I don’t understand why we won’t give multiyear contracts to RH OF backup (platoon) when we’re gonna have to look for one next year unless R. Mustelier is ready. So yes I’d take soriano for that cheap any day of the week. But in that spot of backup he’d prob if he’s lucky hit .250 15-20 HR and 40-75 RBI.

    • TheOneWhoKnocks

      1. They couldn’t restructure his deal like that. It wouldn’t be approved. A player has to consent to restructuring his deal, and MLB needs to approve it.
      2. Even if they managed to restructure his deal, it would be for nothing because the $189m limit is AAV based, so it would count his average salary over the course of his contract, not what they are paying him in 2014.
      3. Soriano is a great trade target. Our need right now is a RH, with pop, who can play a decent corner OF, who doesn’t make much money, isn’t signed long term and would fit the clubhouse.
      I’d like to get him. I’d give up just about any pitching prospect we have to get him.

  3. Mark Finke

    I take him for 10 Mio over two season every day. Trade Betances for him and platoon him with Ichiro and/or DH him.
    Plus: he can still steal some bases, so you don’t have to sub him for a pinch runner late.

    • Chris

      Pretty sure you couldn’t give away Betances right now, hyperbole but still. Coming off his worst season as a pro and regressing in just about every way no one wants him unless he’s free.

  4. bpdelia

    Year one 8 million, year two 4 million. Bettances and Joseph. This is easily the best move left on the table. This team need of help next year too. This move would keep the team a contender.

    • TheOneWhoKnocks

      1. They couldn’t restructure his deal like that. It wouldn’t be approved. A player has to consent to restructuring his deal, and MLB needs to approve it.
      2. Even if they managed to restructure his deal, it would be for nothing because the $189m limit is AAV based, so it would count his average salary over the course of his contract, not what they are paying him in 2014.

      • bpdelia

        Not restructure. That would be the amount the Yankees pay. They would pay 12 millom with 8 coming the first year. Pay a bit more so you don’t have to give up a Marshall level guy. Maybe Warren cojo. Or Nuno cojo. Bettances is a nice flyer for a rebuilding team to take in hopes you make him an 8th inning guy. The cubs can take a shot that they can fix him enough to get value and Joseph is a trade chip. Perhaps you do Bettances cojo or Warren and one of the Pinder/burawa class relief guys

        • Chris

          189 million cap is still AAV based regardles, so it wouldn’t matter if they paid 8 million this year.

  5. Billy ball

    You wouldn’t have to give a pitcher such as Betances even though his value has declined significantly or cojo. You can get by with a warran and a filler reliever and cubs eat 30 million of contract. Cubs just want to unload him and save something. The guy who posted he would give up any pitching prospect for alf really should research the Yankee farm system.

  6. Cubbies Fan

    Being a Cubs fan, I have looked into Soriano a lot over the last couple months. Soriano produced well in the DH spot in the lineup for the Cubs last year in their interleague series against the Twins, hitting 3 homeruns throughout a 3 game series. That shows a lot of potential in the DH spot. Therefore, it would be smart for the Yankees to pursue him. However, Soriano has clearly stated that he does not wish to bat in the DH spot the rest of his career. With maybe two years left in him, I see him being very skeptical of deals like this and, with his no-trade rights, the Yankees would have to make the deal look really good in order to get Soriano to accept the trade. Honestly, I think Soriano deserves a spot in the outfield. He made one error last year and has shown a lot of progression in the outfield. Also, with a smaller field, I see Soriano’s productivity at the plate increasing with the Yankees as well. Overall, it would be smart to pursue Soriano, but they need to make it clear that he will play the field regularly in order for Soriano to accept the trade.

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