Jobu welcomes back an old friend…Alfonso Soriano!
It looks like the Yankees got tired of not having a Soriano on the roster. I mean, it got them to the ALCS last year, right? That’s right, they reacquired Soriano! No, not Rafael, last year’s fill-in closer. That’s right, we got Alfonso back! The Yankees swung a deal with the Cubs late on Wednesday night to bring their former second baseman back to the Bronx. Shout out to our very own Big League Clu, who has been clamoring for this deal for months. Is it going to be enough to change the standings on its own? Probably not, but I’m excited.
I’m actually a little saddened that I’m this happy about the deal. It goes to show the dire straits that the Yankees and their “LOL Lineups,” as the RAB guys call them, are in. But hey, at least Cashman did something. Considering no Yankees right-hander has homered since June 26th (a month ago today), and no active Yankees righty since Chris Stewart on May 15, they are in desperate need of some right-handed pop. Even at 37 years old, Soriano does provide the ability to knock the ball over the fence on a pretty regular basis. In fact, he actually has more homers in the last month than the Yankees do.
Anyway, here are the particulars of the deal: The Yankees get Soriano, while the Cubs take back mid-level reliever prospect Corey Black and they’ll provide the Yankees with about $17.7MM out of the $24.5MM they owe Fonzy through next season. Apparently the Yankees will only be on the hook for $1.8MM this year and $5MM next year, as far as those $6.8MM go. Not a bad deal at all, right?
I know we ran Soriano out of town after he blew the 2003 playoffs out his ass (I mean seriously… how many outside sliders and high fastballs can you strike out on in a month?), but it’s always nice when the team acquires a former great. Yes. I mean it too. He was a pretty special player. The Yankees signed him as a 22-year old out of the Japanese NPL. The Yankees actually thought they were signing a 20-year old, but they probably should have known something was going on. What 20-year old Dominican player plays professionally in Japan? I always found that odd, so I wasn’t surprised when it turned out that Soriano had lied about his age. By the way, I didn’t care when I found that out. He was still great.
Anywho, Soriano began his American career in 1999, and that year he hit two home runs in the All-Star Weekend Futures Game. By September, he got his cup of coffee with the Yankees. He went 1-8 in 9 games, although hat 1 was a dinger. He spent most of the next year in AAA, and again received a quick September call, going 9-50 with 2 homers in 22 games. In 2001, the Yankees handed him the second base reigns, and he ran with them… quite literally. Soriano stole 43 bases and hit 18 homers as a rookie, but none was bigger than the one he hit off of Curt Schilling in the 8th inning of Game 7 of the World Series. That should have been the series winner, but we all know what ended up happening, so let’s not talk about it.
Soriano became a legitimate star the next season, leading the league in runs (128), hits (209), SB (41) while hitting 51 doubles, 39 homers and driving in 102 runs. Wowsers. He again approached the 40/40 mark in 2003, knocking 38 dingers and nabbing 35 bases, but that would be his last as a Yankee. The Yanks got the opportunity to trade for the then best player in the world, Alex Rodriguez. They shipped Soriano and Joaquin Arias to Texas for the biggest scumbag in the world and cash. To be honest, I don’t regret the deal, even with 20/20 hindsight vision. It was the right deal to make at the time. No one knew A-Rod would go Supervillain on us.
In his time away from the Yankees, Soriano has put together a pretty great career. There was a while where he was one of the tougher outs in the league. The Rangers eventually traded him to the Washington Nationals, where he finally eclipsed the 40/40 mark by hitting 46 round-trippers and ripping off 41 bags in 2006. After that year, he signed with the Cubs, where he remained until today.
While I don’t think Sori is a Hall of Famer or anything, he’s going to end up with 400+ homers in his career (389 now). Depending on how much longer he plays, I think he has an outside shot at 500 too. He also seems to have gotten some life back in his legs this year, as he’s stolen 10 bases. This means he has a shot at 300 stolen bases too (he’s at 280 now). You know how many guys have 400/300 for their careers? Barry Bonds, Andre Dawson, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez. Two of those guys are in the Hall of Fame already, and the other two cheated their way out of it, but they’re two of the best players in the history of the game. Maybe the Hall isn’t so far-fetched for Soriano after all.
Either way, I’m glad to have him back on the team, and I look forward to him being in the lineup from here on out. If he hits some big flys, I might stand up and cheer in my living room.
Featured image courtesy of: Getty Images
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