As expected, when Curtis Granderson’s forearm buckled under a fastball kiss, the Alfonso Soriano/Yankees rumors exploded almost as immediately as that piece of bone. Granderson is expected back in just 10 weeks, though, so the rumors say as much about the time of year – there are usually relatively few rumors right now – as they do about the likelihood of an actual trade.
Still, the possibility of a Spring Soriano trade is on the table, and that possibility ticked up slightly yesterday.
- Soriano was asked about the possibility of a trade to the Yankees after the Granderson injury, and he said he wasn’t sure what he’d do. “I don’t know,” he told the media. “[Granderson's injury] happened today, and I don’t know if they want to call or not. If they call for me, I have to think about it. I don’t want to make a quick reaction and say ‘yeah’ or say ‘no.’ I want to think about it. I’m 37 years old so I have to think first what’s good for me and for the team and for my family, too …. I don’t want to say no; I want to think about it first. There isn’t a contender yet. There’s a lot of good teams that have an 80, 90 percent chance to make the playoffs. We’ll see. Today is the second game of Spring Training, and there’s a lot of games and a lot of days to go, and I believe we have a better chance than last year.” To me, that sounds like a guy who actually would give pretty strong consideration to accepting a trade to the Yankees today if it came before him. But he still might say no.
- That said, Soriano emphasized – as you would expect him to – that he wants to give this Cubs team a chance to win, first. “At the Trade Deadline last year, there were six, seven teams that were contenders. Now, it’s 2013, and no contenders because the season hasn’t started yet. I have to see how we play first, the Cubs, and after that, maybe a couple months, if we’re not playing good, they can decide what they want to do with me …. The first thing for me is to see the Cubs in the playoffs this year. I’m not thinking about another team; I’m not thinking I want to get traded. I just want to stay here and make the playoffs and go to the World Series with this team …. I want to give it one more chance. I want to win here. It’s been a long time not winning. I signed here to win and I prepared my mind from the first day I signed the contract to win a World Series here. If I go somewhere else, I want to feel good, but my dream is winning here.” It’s hard to blame him, given that it’s still just March and the Cubs do look at least a little bit better on paper this year.
- That all said, Jon Heyman wrote an incredibly strongly worded piece about the Yankees’ current need for Soriano. It’s a long, thorough piece, but the gist is this: the Yankees need Soriano, they’ve needed him even before the Granderson injury, Soriano is underrated, it’s ridiculous that the Yankees wouldn’t part with a “good” prospect for Soriano, and the Yankees should try to get a deal done right now, rather than waiting things out. Keep in mind that Cubs rumors and Yankees rumors move the needle, and when a national writer has the opportunity to pair the two, he’ll take it. So you have to regard Heyman’s forcefulness about a trade with some level of caution. Still, all of his points are legit.
- (I’m still waiting to see someone – preferably a New York writer – take on the money issue, though. Heyman notes that the Cubs are willing to eat $26 million of the $36 million Soriano’s owed, which is all well and good, but are the Yankees really able/willing to take on that other $10 million? In order to get under the $189 million luxury cap in 2014 – which the Yankees are eager to do for many complex financial reasons that go beyond the scope of this post – the Yanks are really, really going to have to scrimp and save at the margins next year. $5 million owed to Soriano could actually be a serious problem, as crazy as that sounds.)
- If the Yankees are half as desperate as Heyman makes them out to be, the Cubs should set about convincing Soriano that heading to New York right now is the right move. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not eager to see the Cubs trade Soriano right now, and certainly not just for the sake of trading him. But if the Yankees are desperate, and the Cubs are being honest about their 2013 chances, this might be their best opportunity to maximize Soriano’s value. The Yankees already had a need for a right-handed outfield bat (and part-time DH), as, even with Granderson, they go with three regular lefties in the outfield (and not a lot of power).
- But, if the Yankees aren’t desperate, and if their offer wouldn’t be of the kind you can’t refuse, then I have no issue with the Cubs continuing the course: hold onto Soriano until the Trade Deadline, at least. Maybe his value increases by way of his performance or by way of other teams’ needs. Maybe the Cubs, with Soriano’s help, are miraculously within a stone’s throw of contention.
- Keep in mind: the Yankees would probably have to convince Soriano that he would not have a severely reduced role once Granderson returned from injury, too. Plenty of wrinkles to this, even if it seems so obvious on its face …
- Bill Shaikin says, by the way, that the Yankees probably won’t be interested in Vernon Wells as a short-term substitute and long-term righty complement. This doesn’t really mean much in the Soriano market, I’d think, because Soriano is the far superior player.