What Would Soriano Bring to the Yankees?
Various reports over the last couple of days have indicated that the Yankees and Cubs have been engaged in talks about outfielder Alfonso Soriano. The latest report from Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago said that Soriano is willing to waive his no trade clause if he is dealt to the Yankees. The Cubs will reportedly pickup a huge chunk of the $36 million remaining on Soriano’s deal over the next two years and are only seeking a mid-level prospect. So, picking up Soriano does not appear like it will cost a ton, and he would instantly be the best right handed hitter on the Yankees.
Soriano has hit .254, with 17 home runs, 51 RBI, a .754 OPS and 100 wRC+. Those are not earth shattering numbers, but would represent a clear upgrade over what the Yankees are throwing out there. He would likely play a lot of DH and Travis Hafner’s roster spot could be in jeopardy in Soriano comes on board.
Yankees right-handed hitters had an absolutely egregious .589 OPS going into Tuesday’s game in Texas. Against, lefties that OPS falls to .564. Soriano has hit lefties very well this season with a .273/.310/.496/.806. The Yankees have not had a home run from a right-handed batter since Jayson Nix on June 25th. That is 331 at-bats. These awful numbers are why Soriano would represent such an upgrade.
Soriano has had a hot July with eight home runs and a .927 OPS. Going back to where he started his career with the Yankees could rejuvenate him for the stretch run of the season. His biggest problem is that he does not walk much at all, as his .287 OBP this season suggests. If he got fewer pitches to hit with little protection in this Yankees lineup than he might expand his strike zone and swing at poor pitches.
With the Yankees’ pursuit of Soriano it is clear that the Yankees consider themselves buyers. With them being only 3.5 games out of the second wild card spot that comes as no surprise. Selling could be considered an option with the current state of the Yankees, but unfortunately it is not something they will do unless they are hopelessly out of the race.
Soriano alone will certainly not be enough to make the Yankees a championship contending team. However, if they can add Soriano, another solid bat in the trade market, and Curtis Granderson that would be three good bats to go along with Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner. Anything that the Yankees get out of Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez would have to be considered a bonus, but it is realistic to expect the offense to improve a good deal if they can add Soriano, Granderson and another bat.
While the deal is fine for this year, next year the Yankees would have Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells, Gardner and Soriano under contract. It would be better of the Yankees had more flexibility to improve their outfield. However, they could always just pay Wells off and cut him next year and use Soriano mostly at DH, so they could add another outfielder if they did those things.
Adding Soriano does not present much risk for the Yankees at all. However, if Soriano is the only player they add it will not matter much. They will need to acquire another quality bat to go with him and then maybe the Yankees would have a chance to be playing playoff baseball in October this season.