The New York Yankees are in talks to acquire left fielder Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs, according to a major league source.
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Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer, refuting a story in the New York Post, told Sirius/XM that no deal was close, and that he was still talking to other clubs.
Soriano, 37, used his no-trade clause to reject a trade to the San Francisco Giants last season. He recently told FOXSports.com he would approve a deal to the right city and team, and he played for the Yankees from 1999 to 2003.
The Cubs likely consulted with Soriano before engaging in advanced discussions with the Yankees, who are in desperate need of offense, ranking 12th out of 15 in the American League in runs scored.
The biggest point of negotiation in the Soriano discussions likely will be the amount of money the Cubs include in the deal. Soriano is owed about $25 million through the end of next season. The Cubs are willing to pay a significant portion of that but want a solid prospect in return.
The Yankees are willing to add salary this year, but want to be under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold next season. As reported by the Post, they likely would want the Cubs’ payment structured so that it covered most or all of Soriano’s $18 million salary for next season.
That is the structure the Yankees used when they acquired Vernon Wells from the Los Angeles Angels in spring training. The acquisition of Soriano would force Wells into a lesser role, and help protect the Yankees in the event that third baseman Alex Rodriguez does not rejoin the team due to injury and/or suspension. The Yankees also expect outfielder Curtis Granderson to return from a broken left pinkie in August.
Wells could become the DH against left-handers and spell Ichiro Suzuki in right, the Post reported. Rodriguez almost certainly will need to serve as at least a part-time DH if he returns from hip surgery and his latest ailment, a strained right quadriceps.
Soriano has been hot of late, batting .296 with 10 home runs and a 1.066 in his past 20 games. His Cubs teammates and manager Dale Sveum rave about his work ethic.
“Last year, when he was struggling with his knees, he was the first one in the training room, doing all the drills to get his knees stronger, prepare himself for that game,” outfielder David DeJesus said. “The dedication he has to being on top of his game, that’s why I love being a teammate of his.”
Sveum, calling Soriano “one of the top five people” he has been around in the game, talked about a hot day in Milwaukee last season when Soriano was taking fly balls in left field during optional batting practice.
“I said, ‘Sori, what are you doing out here? Give your legs a day off!’” Sveum recalled. “He said, ‘No man, I’ve gotta get better out here. I’m not that good. I’ve got to get better.’ What 36-year-old man making $18 million a year would say that and be out there during optional batting practice?”