Yankees Acquire Alfonso Soriano Again

It’s been in the works for a few days, and now this morning, it is finally official: the Yankees have acquired Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs in exchange for a class-A pitching prospect, widely rumored to be Corey Black. For the Cubs, though, this move is less about the prospect than it is about financial flexibility.

Soriano has about $25 million left on his contract between 2013 and 2014, and according to Buster Olney, the Yankees have agreed to absorb almost $7 million of that total, including $5 million next season. It’s not a massive pot of gold, but the Cubs are saving about the same amount of money that they used to sign Scott Feldman over the off-season, and that turned out okay. Odds are good that the Cubs are going to reinvest the savings into their 2014 club and come away with a better (and younger) player than Soriano in the process. That makes this an easy win for Chicago.

This deal does make some sense for New York as well, however. As Jeff wrote on Wednesday — and go read that whole piece if you’re interested in Soriano’s value — the new Yankee left fielder will likely displace Vernon Wells in the line-up, and Wells has been atrocious since his strong April. Replacing a total scrub with a moderately decent player is a real upgrade, and the Yankees are in need of real upgrades.

I wonder, though, whether this is throwing good money after bad. The Yankees are in fourth place in the AL East, 6 1/2 games behind the Red Sox, and our rest-of-season forecast has them finishing with 85 wins, well behind the top five teams in the AL. Cool Standings places their playoff odds at just under 16%. Adding Soriano makes them better, but they’re still long shots to make the playoffs.

And now, after already agreeing to pay about $3 million of Vernon Wells’ 2014 salary, they’ve added $5 million for Soriano in 2014 as well. Individually, these are small additions, but they can start to add up, especially for a team that has made a significant effort to reduce their luxury tax bill. The Yankees have money, so it’s not like paying Soriano to sit on the bench is going to be a financial hardship on them, but having a multitude of modestly priced low value players on their books for next year might make staying under the $189 million luxury tax threshold difficult, at least while also improving their team in a meaningful way over the off-season.

If Soriano is the Yankees primary mid-summer acquisition, I’m not sure it’s going to be worth it, because this isn’t a great team even with another decent right-handed power hitter in the mix. Soriano is a useful role player, and because the Cubs are financing most of his salary, he’s only going to be paid like a useful role player. But the Yankees aren’t a useful role player away from being a playoff team.

Soriano will help them. I’m not sure he’ll help them enough, and so they might have just spent $5 million of their 2014 budget for a modest upgrade that won’t actually move the needle.




Print This Post



Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


61 Responses to “Yankees Acquire Alfonso Soriano Again”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Austin carter says:

    You talk about Alfonso Soriano making it harder to stay under $189 million in 2014, but my understanding was the trade was going to be structured in a way that the luxury tax deductions from the cash the Cubs are paying cancel out the cost of Soriano next year like the Vernon Wells trade. Is that still the case or did something change?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eric R says:

      I was under the impression that they only intended to be under the cap for one year, to reset the %%% they pay on overages…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • austin carter says:

        They are. 2014 is that year. Though there are rumors they might abandon it because the savings are a lot less than they originally thought

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Rippers says:

    Chone Figgins is available.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. dch says:

    He is an upgrade. Granderson and Jeter, even if average, will be upgrades. I am assuming A Rod is suspended but what if he appeals, there is another upgrade. Throw in a possible trade or waiver wire pick up. They are better than a 16% to make the playoffs. They have treaded water far longer than anyone thought they would

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • EMB says:

      If, if, if. You’re assuming a lot. They’ve been treading water, but they’ve been trending down for nearly two months. If those returning from injury reverse that trend then perhaps that 16% number changes. Until then, no, they are indeed at 16% to make the playoffs.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. AMB says:

    Dave,

    Why do you assume that the Cubs are going to use the $5 million wisely?

    Using Feldman as an example you then said “Odds are good that the Cubs are going to reinvest the savings into their 2014 club and come away with a better (and younger) player than Soriano in the process. That makes this an easy win for Chicago.”

    The Cubs also used $5.5 million dollars to sign Scott Baker this year. It seems like that was a pretty poor use of resources and the odds are probably just as high that they use the $5 million dollars on another Baker rather than another Feldman.

    Soriano is by no means a great (or even a good player) anymore but he figures to retain his status as a 1-1.5 win player next year which is almost exactly what $5 million would get you in the free agent market place.

    I fail to see how this makes this an “easy win” for the Cubs

    +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Brett W says:

      Cubs can spend the money where they need the most help (pitching, 2B, maybe catcher) and use acceptable dirt-cheap guys like Lake, Borbon, Sappelt, Vitters, and Ha in left field for the same production Soriano would provide.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • maguro says:

        Come on, those guys are all terrible.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • AMB says:

        It seems like Dave is simply assuming that because the Cubs spend money wisely (ala Scott Feldman) that they will again. He makes no mention of, or reference to, allocating money to a different need.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chcago Mark says:

      Might a younger $5mm player have a higher upside and/or trade value than Alfonso? I’m not displeased with Scherholtz, Dejesus and Borbon/Suppelt/etc in the of while waiting for bigger and better things in the off-season, 2014 and 2015. I think they’ll spend the extra $$ wisely.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Signing Scott Baker was a cheap risk just like Feldman. If it wasn’t a risk, they wouldn’t be available for small contracts. At least one of them paying off became more likely when they signed both and the total value of those two signings together is still positive given the Feldman return.

      If they don’t trade Soriano, they don’t have this savings to spend on another player next year. Even if it’s more likely than not that they don’t find another flip candidate, the chances that they do are high enough that the cost of losing Soriano’s production is a worthwhile risk given the marginal value he would have to them next year.

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      I disagree that spending $5.5 M on Scott Baker was a “pretty poor use of resources.” There was a pretty good chance that Baker was going to be worth at least 1 win and, if he was on a 2-3 win pace — a fairly decent bet, the Cubs could’ve turned around and traded him at the deadline as well.

      Look at it this way, the Cubs spent about $10 M and got Feldman for half a season + the return that Feldman brought them in a trade. That’s a pretty good deal for the Cubs, even if Baker turned out to be worthless.

      That Baker has been hurt all season doesn’t mean it was a poor use of resources. It just didn’t work out. It was a solid use of resources and sometimes that just happens.

      Do you really think that Soriano was likely to bring them a better return than this pitcher + $5 M?

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • AMB says:

        Are we talking about the same Scott Baker?

        The same guy who missed all of last year with an arm injury and hasn’t started a game in the big leagues since the beginning of August, 2011?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      I’m a Yanks fan, but Black’s a nice enough prospect that Cubs fans should be happy with the trade.

      I’d say it’s an “easy win” for Chicago, but it’s also a very good deal for the Yanks.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Hank says:

      Everything Hoyer/Theo does is an easy win, it’s a rule.

      Heck he called the Baker signing a top 10 move last offseason.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Daniel says:

        Because every move can only be judged in retrospect?

        I don’t understand the up votes on the AMB comment at all. Baker was throwing in Spring Training and then he injured his arm again. Spending five million one a guy like that is exactly what the 2013 Cubs needed to do. The fact that it didn’t pay off was proof only that there was risk involved in the original deal.

        Will the Cubs definitely get something of value from the $7 million they save in the Soriano deal? No, but it’s not impossible. Will Corey Black ever be any use at the major league level? Maybe, perhaps probably, not but again, it’s not impossible. Was Alfonso Soriano going to contribute anything to the next decent Cubs team? Pretty much certainly not.

        Hoyer and Epstein’s Cubs may never win anything but it won’t be for a want of attempting to do things the right way. AMB, they have allocated a lot of money pretty wisely already. Paul Maholm? Feldman? Nate Schierholtz? David DeJesus? You can’t claim they have wasted much in their couple of years in the job.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ronson says:

          Baker is making rehab starts now. It was a calculated risk, but it’s not a bust yet.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Slats says:

    “Yankee righties have a .589 OPS”

    Holy damn that is mind-boggling. The Yankees righties have colelctively been a team of Pete Kozma’s.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • cass says:

      It’s funny that in most of the baseball world, Pete Kozma has become metonymous for a bad hitter while in one city, Washington, he is loathed for his clutch postseason hitting.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

      that stat hasnt changed since you wrote it in jeffs thread as “jason b” … even more annoying, you copy/pasted instead of adding some additional insight, as evidenced by the exact same spelling error.

      ill get off my condescending soapbox now, carry on with your life slats/jason b.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason B says:

        To be clear, I am the original bad speller and poster. Slats is an interloping copier. And, with this being the internet, I can only assume he has tiny genitals also.

        +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason B says:

      Hey, you copied and pasted my comment from yesterday. At least fix my misspellings if you’re going to do that…

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Clayton says:

      This is awesome now that I think about it. As a Cardinals fan, I really wish Pete Kozma was DFA’d. However, he will forever be the enemy in DC.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Pirates Hurdles says:

    Pretty surprised that the Cubs could only get a low level RP prospect for Soriano considering the market and them eating almost all the money.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • maguro says:

      Soriano had to approve the trade, too, so that reduced their leverage. Pesumably New York was one of the few (maybe only?) places he was willing to go.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pirates Hurdles says:

        Yeah that could explain it. He supposedly nixed a deal to Pittsburgh last year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • chri521 says:

        Agreed this is probably leverage plus it just makes too much sense to get it done. Cubs gain at least a live arm, younger and recoup some money for a signup next year for a player that had a no-trade clause? Not bad.

        Also lets the Cubs put someone younger out in the OF as part of the rebuild. Now to find a taker for Gregg and Nate and Theo/Hoyer would be doing an amazing job here.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • JamesDaBear says:

          I want the Cubs to keep Nate unless a team overpays for him. They have him under contract for next season and this Soriano trade now opens up a great competition for all three OF positions in the Friendly Confines.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • maxamuz says:

      Corey Black throws a 99-100mph fastball. Hardly a low level prospect. Hes young, needs development, but with a FB that quick, not a bad deal for a aging Soriano.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. McExpos says:

    I’m not sure this money makes any kind of a difference to the Yankees, especially considering that ARod will undoubtedly be suspended for a period of time in connection to the Biogenesis investigation. if ARod makes $25 million in 2014 and is suspended for 50 games – which seems low, but we’ll use that as our “out of the hat” number – then the Yankees will recoup that $7 million in an ARod suspension. And since Braun has already cut a deal with MLB as a kind-of repeat offender, it’s unlikely that MLB is going to go any easier on Alex Rodriguez.

    Not stating whether any of this is fair or reasonable or a good use of MLB’s time and energy, just stating that it seems likely that the Soriano money could come out of an ARod suspension.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Kevin says:

    Soriano, Wells and Ichiro. Looks like the Yankees are trying to put together the 2006 All Star Game. They need to get Jeter and ARod back on the field though.

    +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. DNA+ says:

    Who was the last right-handed batter to hit a HR for the Yankees? …I’m going to guess Jayson Nix.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • syh says:

      You’re right, more than a month ago (6/25). The one before that, by David Adams, was also another month prior (5/22).

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DNA+ says:

        Yeah, I remember both of them. …the Adams one was particularly exciting. He was about the 5th player the Yankees tried at 3rd this year. He came up and got a few hits, including two HR, if I remember correctly, made a few nice plays in the field, and then the bubble burst and he spent the rest of the his time up looking like a deer in headlights. He was probably relieved to be sent back down, he looked so overmatched.

        I’m going to guess that the HR prior to Adams, if not another one by Adams then it was Chris Stewart.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Richie says:

    This is an excellent move by the Yankees. They are still in contention, get Wells out of the lineup, and even as a platoon DH next year Soriano should return $5 mill of value to the Yankees, should he not?

    OK, a minor move, but an excellent minor move.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Ideally Soriano won’t be the only midseason acquisition. They also should be acquiring a fellow named Curtis Granderson within the next 20 days, along with a pretty good RHH who can stand at SS.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Cus says:

    Over the last 30 days Soriano is 24/84 18 10 21 2 .286. Sorry for the fantasy stats, but it was easily copy-pasteable.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. jsolid says:

    in the last 30 days, the Yankee offense has been below replacement level. the entire offense. yikes.
    so Im going with, trading for Soriano was good, just to maintain a minimum level of dignity.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • DNA+ says:

      And Cano has been quite good over this period. As a fan you feel like you’ve got at best 4 at bats where something good might happen.

      Funny thing, teams have figured out that there is no sense pitching to Cano, and his BB have jumped up, and so has his WAR according to FanGraphs. …but the truth is, those walks might be valuable on the average team, but on this team, if you take the bat out of Cano’s hands you’ve crippled the entire offense.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        Don’t forget Gardy! Even though he cooled off a bit last month, he’s back to being a legitimate leadoff hitter.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Hank says:

    Dave, if you are going to point out the Yankees luxury tax drive, could you at least have the common sense to use the actual luxury tax impact and not salary (as the two are not the same).

    Wells is a league min hit against the luxury tax calculation next year. Soriano is I think about 4mil.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Tanned Tom says:

    I think you are wrong to assume this means the end of Wells. His splits against lefties are not bad, and he’s a better fielder than Soriano. Plus he’s 18 for 56 in July, which I’ll take all the time.
    What makes more sense is for Almonte, Soriano and Wells to split time in LF. And for Soriano to see significant time at DH, with Hafner being the one who loses out in this game of musical chairs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. mintmason says:

    The conversation for this topic ended hours ago, so I apologize for the late comment. I’m new to this site and this is my first post. I thought the Yankees would have been better off trading for a player such as Matt Laporta. I realize that Laporta has not done much in his career in the majors, but he is younger and less expensive than Soriano. He is also capable of playing first base. The Yankees, already having Wells, had a bigger need for a righthanded 1B/DH than righthanded LF/DH. The Indians have a need for bullpen depth (their bullpen gave up 4 runs tonight to blow the lead) and the Yankees needed a righthanded bat/1B. A swap of Chamberlain for Laporta might have worked. Both teams would have filled needs by exchanging former top prospects.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      I’d say the reason that didn’t happen is that Soriano is still a useful piece, despite his age, while LaPorta is simply not very good at hitting baseballs.

      Also, Wells is terrible. Truly, truly terrible.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • mintmason says:

        I appreciate the response. There is no denying that Laporta has not hit well in the majors, but he did perform well in the minors for multiple seasons. Before last season you could have said Chris Davis was not very good at hitting baseballs in the majors. Now he’s a top hitter. I’d rather see the Yankees take a chance on a younger hitter like Laporta, whose future cost is minimal, instead of another aging player in Soriano.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>