Blast from the past? Yanks discussing Soriano deal
Trade with Cubs would bring right-handed slugger back to New York to beef up lineup
ARLINGTON -- Having spent the past several weeks running up the phone bill in search of offensive help, the Yankees may have found a match, discussing the possibility of going back to the future with Alfonso Soriano.
The Yankees and Cubs continue to talk about a trade that would re-fit the 37-year-old Soriano for pinstripes, two sources confirmed to MLB.com on Tuesday. A deal would bring Soriano full circle after he broke in with New York and went to the Rangers in a February 2004 trade for Alex Rodriguez.
The New York Post was the first to report the discussions regarding Soriano, who entered Tuesday batting .256 with 17 home runs, 51 RBIs and a .286 on-base percentage in 92 games this season. No deal is imminent, as Cubs general manger Jed Hoyer has called the reports "very premature."
"We've had some discussions with different teams about Sori, and there's nothing close at all," Hoyer said on MLB Network Radio. "It's not nearly as advanced as reports have made it seem."
Soriano is earning $17 million this year and is due $18 million in 2014, so the distribution of that money is a concern as the negotiations progress, particularly if the Yankees intend to come in below the $189 million luxury-tax threshold next season.
The Post reported that the Cubs would pick up a large portion of Soriano's remaining salary. Chicago picked up four prospects in Monday's trade of pitcher Matt Garza to the Rangers and is believed to be seeking one or two Minor Leaguers in exchange for Soriano.
While stating that he did not want to speak about what the Yankees may or may not do, captain Derek Jeter said on Tuesday that he considered Soriano a "good friend" during their time together in New York.
"Everybody knows how I feel about Sori," Jeter said. "I said it when we traded for Al -- he's someone that you develop a relationship with and you miss them when they leave. We had a great relationship."
Soriano, who began his Major League career with the Yankees in 1999, has no-trade protection in his contract as a player with at least 10 years in the big leagues and five with his current club, and he used it last season when the Cubs attempted to trade him to the Giants.
It is believed that Soriano would at least entertain a move back to the Bronx, and Hoyer is expected to meet with Soriano on that topic. The Cubs are in Phoenix for a series against the D-backs, and Hoyer was headed there on Tuesday.
"Last year, we took things to him on an individual basis when teams asked about him," Hoyer said. "He's got 10-5 [rights]. He has the right, and has earned the right, to veto deals. We're not going to push him in any direction. We'll certainly give him some of the teams that have inquired about him."
Speaking on Monday after the Garza trade, Soriano did not seem to be in the mood for trade speculation.
"I don't want to think about it; I don't want to talk or hear my name at the Trade Deadline," Soriano said. "But, you know, it's part of the game. I'm not going to pay attention and just play my game and work hard."
The Yankees are in serious need of offensive help, having been shut out Monday for the eighth time this season and snapping a 24-inning stretch without an extra-base hit on Tuesday against the Rangers in Arlington.
And now, they are not sure if Rodriguez will return at all this season due to his left quadriceps injury and the looming possibility of a suspension under MLB's continuing Biogenesis investigation.
New York has been particularly vulnerable against left-handed pitching, one area at which Soriano has excelled this season, batting .280 (33-for-118) with six homers, 13 RBIs and an .820 on-base plus slugging percentage.
The Yankees' team OPS against left-handers is .649, which ranks 28th in the Majors; only the White Sox (.640) and Nationals (.621) have been weaker against southpaws. New York ranks 12th in the American League in runs scored.
Soriano has also hit 10 home runs in his past 20 games, batting .296 over that stretch with six doubles and 21 RBIs.
"He's been a productive player over his career, there's no doubt about it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been an exciting player, a guy that could steal 40 bases, a guy that could hit 40 home runs. He's been a good player."
This past weekend at Fenway Park, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the trade market has been "a tough one" in terms of acquiring hitters, and that while he has made many phone calls, they had thus far yielded little.
"I just know that right now, we're interested in adding and reinforcing and getting better," Cashman said. "We know we're going to get better when guys come back, but we still obviously need to improve ourselves in the short term. That's our effort. We're not looking at anything else other than that."
A second baseman at the time, Soriano hit .284 with 98 home runs and 270 RBIs in 501 games for the Yankees from 1999-2003 before he was dealt to Texas with infielder Joaquin Arias in exchange for Rodriguez and cash considerations.
"He had a lot of power, stole a lot of bases," Jeter said. "Sori did a lot when he was here. He was pretty exciting."