alfonso soriano hittingThe day started with an Alfonso Soriano deal to the New York Yankees “close,” and it looks like it’s going to end with a “large gap” between the two sides. That, according to Buster Olney, who reports that, as of this evening, there’s a large gap between how each of the Cubs and Yankees value Soriano, and how the money he’s owed should be accounted for.

It’s safe to guess that the Cubs say Soriano is worth “a lot” and the Yankees should pay “a lot” of his salary, while the Yankees counter that he’s worth “a little” and they should pay “a little” of his salary. Negotiations!

But seriously, the valuation of Soriano – setting aside the salary – is complicated by his age (37), his uptick in defensive value over the last two years, his surging bat over the last few weeks, his great season in 2012, and his off-the-field value to the Cubs organization (i.e., great in the clubhouse, great with young players, etc.). Soriano, to the Cubs, might be worth more than his stat sheet tells the Yankees he’s worth. Then again, given the Yankees’ desperation for a bat, and their precarious playoff positioning, Soriano might be a hell of a lot more valuable to the Yankees than he is to the Cubs.

And then you get into the financial side of things, and it gets downright crazy. Soriano makes $18 million this and next year, and, although he’s a useful starter, we can all agree that he’s probably no longer worth that level of compensation. So, to acquire any kind of value, the Cubs will have to chip in some cash. How much, however, is going to take a while to mete out – especially when you consider that, if the Cubs chip in enough, they could actually help the Yankees’ luxury tax situation in 2014.

For his part, Soriano told the media (lots of Twitter links here) this evening that he hasn’t yet spoken with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer about a possible trade, but confirmed that the Yankees had reached out to his agent about their interest (presumably after permission from the Cubs). If a deal gets close, Soriano says he’ll want a little time to think about it, but he’s “open to anything.” He’s not going to decide on waiving his no-trade rights until a deal really is close, though, which he does not believe is currently the case. Dale Sveum called today’s rumors “overblown.”

I imagine we’ll hear more about this in the coming days as the Cubs and Yankees presumably continue to talk, and as the front office reaches out to Soriano about possible deal(s). This may rise to the level of an Obsessive Watch …

UPDATE (8:01pm CT): Carrie Muskat spoke to Theo Epstein, and he indicated that he’ll soon speak to Soriano about his options. There are more teams interested than just the Yankees. That’s good news.

UPDATE 2 (8:19pm CT): Muskat has a full write-up, and it sounds like both Epstein and Soriano were pretty upset that the rumored deal broke overnight. Epstein told Muskat, “[The Yankees are] not the first team to call [about Soriano]. They’re the first team to show up in the paper in their home city right away.” And Soriano was surprised to see that the Cubs were “close” to a deal when he hadn’t heard anything from the Cubs. “When I saw it on TV, I got a little surprised. I didn’t know it was coming – they put a lot of pressure on me, because a lot of friends called me and family when they saw the rumor on TV. My agent and me, we have the control. We talked, and I think if something happens, I want to be the first one to know.” Soriano has no-trade rights, and, for that reason, he’s right that this is how things should play out. See Muskat’s piece for more.

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