Alfonso Soriano Returns to the Yankees
By: Howard Goldin
Bronx, NY---The MLB trade deadline will be reached on July 31. Thus, there are only a few days remaining in which the contending teams can acquire players they hope can help their teams reach championship status and teams in the lower rungs of the standings can rid their teams of high salaried players who are toward the end of the careers.
The Yankee management, although the club is in fourth place in the American League East, obviously believe a change in personnel can help the team rise to contend for a post-season berth. Rumors of a trade with the Chicago Cubs in which left fielder Alfonso Soriano would return to the Bronx proved to be true on Friday when the trade was finalized.
Soriano is returning to the major league team in which he began his career in exchange for a minor league reliever, Corey Black. Soriano’s contract which lasts through the 2014 season will shift to the Yankees, but $17.7 million of the $24.5 million still owed to Soriano will be paid by the Cubs.
Although he is 37 years of age, Soriano is still capable of hitting for power. Thus far in the 2013 season, Soriano has hit 17 home runs and driven in 51 runs. Ten of his homers were hit in the last 21 games he played with Chicago.
The Yanks are in dire need of power in the lineup as they have not homered in nine straight games as of Saturday, July 27. The last time that dubious mark has been exceeded was 1984 when the team was homerless for 10 straight games.
His manager in Chicago, Dale Sveum, after uttering words of high praise for Soriano’s performance and attitude while he played with the Cubs, explained the reasons why Soriano would waive the no-trade clause in his contract, “He’s going to a place that is, obviously, one of the better stadiums, and he’s been there before and has performed in that atmosphere before. Obviously, they’ve [Yankees] had a lot of injuries, and he’s the guy who can fill that void as designated hitter and in left field.”
Although he was hitless in his first two games with the Yanks, he was very warmly received by the fans in Yankee Stadium.
Soriano began his pro career in baseball in Japan. He had a short but contentious time with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp before becoming an MLB free agent. He signed with the Yankees. As a minor leaguer, he was selected the MVP of the 1999 Futures Game. He played eight last season games with the Yankees in 1999.
He remained with the club through 2003. In his rookie season, 2001, he was third in the voting for Rookie of the Year. Interestingly, the winner, Ichiro Suzuki, and the second place finisher, C.C. Sabathia, are now his teammates on the Yankees. He excelled in the 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons, but was traded to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez in early 2004. In late 2005, he was traded to the Washington Nationals. At the conclusion of the 2006 season, he signed with the Cubs as a free agent.
Although, he was always potent at bat, Soriano was error prone as a second baseman and was eventually moved to the outfield. He was chosen an All-Star in seven major league seasons and was the MVP of the 2004 All-Star Game.
He is close to two statistical milestones that he should achieve with the Yanks; he needs 11 hits to reach 2,000 and 11 home runs to be at 400.
Two needs of the Yankees can be aided by the addition of Soriano, a right handed batter in the everyday lineup and a batter capable of power numbers. The veteran is also praised for his presence in the clubhouse as one who is very encouraging to young players.
Soriano’s initial statement showed pleasure in returning to the Yankees and good feelings for the Cubs, “I’m happy and I think they’re [Cubs] happy too. They are getting something back and I am happy going back to New York, where I started my career.”
The 15 year baseball veteran also mentioned the drawback of being traded, “The thing that was difficult for me was leaving my teammates, my family…I have been traded before and I know what happens.”
Ironically, the player the Yankees traded to obtain Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees lineup before A-Rod.