Winners and Losers of Cubs-Yankees Trade Sending Alfonso Soriano to New York
It is a shrewd move for the Yankees, who are desperate to find anyone who can hit a home run. It is a savvy move for the Cubs, who have been trying to get out from under Soriano's contract for a long time.
Of course, given the amount of money he was making and current level of production, the Cubs didn't exactly rid themselves completely of Soriano's deal. They are going to be paying a lot to the Yankees, which we will get into shortly.
Certainly, it is a move that appears to benefit both sides, but who are the biggest winners and losers in the Soriano-to-New York trade?
Winner: Alfonso Soriano
Last year, when the Giants were searching for a power-hitting outfielder, they agreed to terms on a trade with the Cubs for Soriano only to see him reject the deal because he didn't want to play on the West Coast.
The benefit of having 10-and-five rights in baseball is controlling where you play. Soriano wanted to be in a spot that made him comfortable. He was happy in Chicago and decided to stay there, missing out on a chance to win a World Series in the process.
Now, Soriano can go to a franchise he knows very well, having spent the first three full seasons of his career with the Yankees and playing in two World Series with them in 2001 and 2003. He is going to play every day for a team that has a chance to go back to the playoffs and will be treated like a hero if he is able to hit a home run or two.
Losers: Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner
In acquiring Alfonso Soriano, the Yankees have basically washed their hands of the Vernon Wells-Travis Hafner experiment that has been as big of a disaster as everyone thought it would be back in March.
Soriano is a left fielder, so he will knock Wells, Zoilo Almonte and the other crop of players who have manned that position—and combined to hit .223/.268/.330 with 10 home runs in 394 at-bats—down a rung on the playing-time ladder.
On top of that, the move gives Joe Girardi some options to play with at designated hitter. He can sit the relic known as Travis Hafner (.209/.304/.390) more often to avoid just giving away outs in the lineup.
There are a number of players whose roles are going to be affected by the addition of Soriano, but none more prominent than Wells and Hafner among regulars in the Yankee lineup. And that's a good thing for this team.
Winner: New York Yankees
Times are tough in New York right now. Brian Cashman and Alex Rodriguez are going back and forth through the media. The team has gone 26-32 following a 28-16 start. Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson have played 24 games combined.
The Yankees currently rank 22nd in runs scored, 24th in home runs and 29th in slugging percentage. They had to do something, anything to make this offense watchable on a nightly basis.
Soriano isn't going to do much to help their collective on-base percentage (.306), but his 17 home runs and .467 slugging percentage would rank second among everyday players in the Yankees lineup behind Robinson Cano.
There are certain issues with Soriano you have to live with. He doesn't hit well against right-handed pitching (.245/.276/.452) and is a very streaky power hitter (eight of his 17 home runs have come this month). But desperation can hide a lot of those issues and help you focus on the positives.
On top of that, the Yankees really aren't paying Soriano that much money. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, of the $24.5 million still owed to Soriano, the Yankees are only going to pay around $6.8 million.
Loser: Alex Rodriguez
It may not seem like the two situations would be connected at all, but let me put the pieces in place before you roll your eyes.
The Yankees clearly don't want Alex Rodriguez to play for them this season, if ever again. But given the issues they have had scoring runs, they understand that he would represent a huge upgrade at third base or designated hitter.
Yankees third basemen have hit .217/.278/.291 with four home runs, while their DHs have hit .201/.291/.346. Rodriguez would clearly be the better option for them at either position, if the Yankees wanted him.
However, by acquiring Soriano and hitting him fifth or sixth in the order as a DH, they can tell Rodriguez to keep rehabbing his quad and playing in Triple-A games until his role in the Biogenesis scandal becomes clear—especially because they know someone else in the lineup can hit home runs.
Again, the two situations are not exactly related. But don't put it past the Yankees to think they can get some power at another position of need without having to push Rodriguez back into the big leagues.
Winners: Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer
Eventually, all of the wheeling and dealing done by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will have to yield results on the field for the Cubs. But for a regime less than two years into its reign, Epstein and Hoyer are doing a fantastic job of trimming the fat on the big-league roster and adding talent to what was a depleted farm system.
No team has been more aggressive in the trade market this summer than the Cubs, who have moved Scott Feldman, Matt Garza and now Soriano. They basically paid Soriano to leave and had to acquiesce to his desire to play for a team that intrigued him, but they are still saving about $7 million in salary through 2014 by moving him to the Yankees.
The return for Soriano isn't going to be anything really worth talking about. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Cubs are going to get an A-ball pitcher of their choice.
But as far as a team president and general manager coming to a franchise, having a clear blueprint and executing that plan as quickly as they have, Epstein and Hoyer have been remarkable. There is a lot of new, exciting talent coming through the minors that will play an integral role in the next wave of success.
It is going to take a couple of years, at least, before the results show on the field, but the future looks much, much brighter than it did after the 2011 season.
Winner: New York Mets
I'm sure the Yankees could care less about what happens with the Mets, but by making this deal for Soriano, the Pinstripes did help their crosstown rivals with their potential trade chip in Marlon Byrd.
This year's trade market, at least based on speculation out there, is going to be very light on hitters. Soriano was the most prominent name on the board, though his salary and years left on the deal made him less attractive to a lot of teams than he otherwise might have been.
On the flip side, the Mets have an inexpensive outfielder having a good season with the bat—certainly better than Soriano—whom they really have no use for after this year and who could help a contender down the stretch.
Byrd, hitting .282/.326./.518 with 17 home runs, is now the best power hitter available. The Mets, for reasons known only to them, might choose to hang on to him for the rest of the season. But now teams might be more inclined to make an offer for him knowing there aren't a lot of other hitters slugging over .500 available before July 31.