Alfonso Soriano doesn't want to play for a losing team anymore (via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times), and the New York Yankees aren't exactly set at the designated hitter's spot in the lineup. Match made in heaven, right?
Well, not so fast.
Soriano has maintained that he wants to play for a contender and win the World Series by the time he retires (via Wittenmyer). He claims that he'll stay with the Chicago Cubs so long as they are contending, but any semi-knowledgable baseball fan knows that the chances of that happening are slim for 2013—and possibly 2014.
Soriano has compiled a list of six or seven teams to which he would accept a trade, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. He will only accept trades to teams of the eastern and central divisions.
If you recall, Soriano invoked his no-trade clause when the Cubs brought up the idea of dealing him to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. He cited the cold in San Francisco and how poorly it would affect his knees when asked about reasons why he didn't want to play for the Giants.
Regardless of whether or not he made the right decision last season, Soriano is ready to move again given the right circumstances.
Wittenmyer's sources say that the Yankees are potentially one of the teams he would consider a trade to. Some combination of Travis Hafner, Dan Johnson, Matt Diaz, Juan Rivera and Eduardo Nunez will make up the designated hitter position in 2013. Is Soriano an upgrade?
He actually produced at a very high level last season—his best in the league since 2006 when he slugged 46 home runs with the Washington Nationals.
In 561 at-bats (playing mostly left field), Soriano hit 32 home runs, drove in 108 runs and put together a respectable line of .262/.322/.499. He even finished 20th in the NL MVP voting.
The Yankees would ask him to mostly DH, as Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki will be the team's main outfielders.
His ability to play the field—and I use the word "ability" loosely—could make him an attractive, versatile option. He can also still handle the bat pretty well, and that would bode well for a team that lost the power of Nick Swisher and Russell Martin over the offseason.
There are two problems with Soriano at this point, and they are two problems that will be the biggest issues in any potential deal.
For one, Soriano is 37 years old. No longer is he the spry young second baseman that came up with the Yankees in 1999. He's slower and less likely to play in 140-plus games.
The Yankees already have plenty of age on their roster. The average age on their roster is 28.3 years old, third behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (28.6) and Toronto Blue Jays (28.5) for the oldest roster in the bigs.
The last thing they want to do is add a 37-year-old slugger, especially when that trade would likely help them leap-frog over both aforementioned teams.
Now, if Soriano's contract was up after 2013, this wouldn't be a problem. However, he won't be a free agent until after the 2014 season.
With the Yankees' goal of a $189 million payroll by 2014, Soriano's pricey contract wouldn't fit. He'll make $18 million each of the next two seasons, and that number would certainly hinder general manager Brian Cashman's pursuit of a Robinson Cano extension and free agent starting pitchers after this season.
Soriano, while he can still hit pretty well, may not be worth the trouble. The Cubs will be looking for decent prospects in return, and Cashman has been reluctant to deal prospects in recent years.
All these aspects together make a deal for Soriano unlikely. His addition may actually improve the Yankees for 2013, but he just doesn't fit into the Yankees long-term plans.
Yankees fans will just have to be content with Hafner and the others attempting to put together solid seasons from the DH spot in 2013.
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