The Bronx Bombers are close to acquiring Soriano from the Chicago Cubs, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. King III writes that Chicago will get a mid-level prospect, and the Cubs will end up paying the bulk of what’s left on the outfielder’s contract. He’s currently signed through next season.
With all of the injuries to the Yankees' hitters this year, the team has been desperate for assistance. Entering Tuesday, New York has the 24th-best offense in the game in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs. Despite the team’s offensive woes, the Yankees are only seven games behind the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox.
But in order to keep the team from falling further away from the top of the division, general manager Brian Cashman needs to add a power hitter before Major League Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline. It appears that he’ll be adding a guy who was once on New York’s payroll.
Soriano spent the first five years of his career with the Yankees. From 1999 through the 2003 season, the outfielder—and former second baseman—hit .284/.322/.502 with 98 home runs and 270 RBI in 501 games. He was traded to the Texas Rangers in the deal that sent Alex Rodriguez to New York.
Soriano has had his fair share of ups and downs since leaving New York, but he is about as good as he’s going to get right now. Through 92 games with the Cubs this season, he’s hitting .256/.286/.471 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI. In comparison, Robinson Cano is the only Yankee with 17 or more homers in 2013.
If the Yankees were to acquire Soriano, he’d likely serve as an outfielder and as the designated hitter from time to time. New York’s outfield is the 21st-best in baseball this season in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs. Soriano could take over for Vernon Wells, who was acquired by New York back in March.
Wells has really played poorly since the trade that sent him from the West Coast to the East Coast. In 90 games for the Bronx Bombers this season, Wells is hitting .238/.283/.365 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI. The Yankees were probably hoping for a little more production when they decided to acquire him.
If the Yankees want to give Soriano a break once in a while, he could be the designated hitter instead of Travis Hafner, who’s been the primary guy all season. New York’s designated hitter spot in the lineup has been the second-worst in the AL this season in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs.
In fact, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees could release Hafner once some of the regulars return from the disabled list, since he can’t play the field and hasn’t provided much power—he’s hit 12 home runs in 78 games. Sherman also likes how Soriano hits against left-handed pitchers, whereas other Yankees have not:
Some may be concerned about the money issue, since Soriano is schedule to make $18 million this season and in 2014. King reported that the Cubs would eat most of the remaining money, but Sherman thinks the Yankees could pay more this season and have Chicago pay more next season to avoid overstepping the luxury tax mark:
As long as the Yankees aren’t giving up a top prospect—which they aren’t expected to—in exchange for Soriano, this is a no-brainer for Cashman. New York will be getting the bat it needs so much in the second half and will be paying next to nothing to get him.
The Yankees should welcome Soriano back with open arms.