Ah, that five minute breather after the Matt Garza trade was nice.
Overnight, Alfonso Soriano/New York Yankees rumors popped up like wild fire, tracing back to a report from George King at the New York Post. King reports that the Yankees, desperate for pop, are “close” to acquiring Soriano from the Cubs. In the purported deal, the Cubs would pay the bulk of Soriano’s remaining contract (which pays him $18 million this and next year) and would get a “mid-level prospect” in return.
“Mid-level prospect” is a flabby term – it could mean mid-level, in terms of quality, or mid-level, in terms of where he’s currently playing – but I’d be surprised to see the Cubs deal Soriano at this point and eat most of his salary unless they were getting something decent in return. There’s no one obvious to push him out of the lineup at AAA, and he’s a great veteran, clubhouse presence. No reason to dump him *and* eat salary for nothing.
This is all subject to Soriano’s approval, of course, as he holds full no-trade rights. While we believe he would accept a trade to the Yankees, we won’t know until he’s actually presented with a deal.
So, the real question this time of year … how legit is this report? Well, King is a legitimate reporter, and he wouldn’t shoot a Soriano rumor out into the feeding frenzy of the New York media unless there were legs. In support of King’s report, Jon Heyman generally confirms the Yankees are getting close to acquiring Soriano. Buster Olney says that, previously, the two sides had discussed a deal, but the Yankees weren’t willing to take on cash – but that has changed. Gordon Wittenmyer says the talks are ongoing and serious, but nothing is “imminent.” Dave Kaplan hears that the Cubs are working on multiple Soriano deals.
We’ll see what happens today, or if this turns into an ongoing thing.
UPDATE (6:44am CT): Bob Nightengale says that Yankees “surely have no worries that Alfonso Soriano will waive no trade clause.” Before the season, Soriano indicated that he would be willing to accept a trade once the Cubs had fallen out of contention, which they have. He was looking to go to a contender, preferably on the East Coast. Check, check. I do believe Soriano probably would waive his no-trade rights in a deal that sends him to the Yankees. But you just never know until you know.
UPDATE 2 (6:51am CT): Ken Rosenthal checks in, saying that he’s told the two sides are “in talks” about Soriano, but that’s as far as he’ll go.
UPDATE 3 (6:57am CT): As of this morning, Jon Heyman says the Cubs and Yankees are still talking, but “there’s work to do.” I wonder if George King’s definition of “close” and ours would be different. That is to say, if this drags on for days, in King’s mind, he might not have been wrong – “close,” to him, might only mean that the two sides are working on a specific deal, and it might happen soon.
UPDATE 4 (7:20am CT): Buster Olney has a write-up (insider, if you want the whole thing) on the trade talks, as of this morning, and he says a deal is not close. There is a lot of ground to cover on the financial side of things, and on what prospect(s) the Cubs will get back. It sounds as though Olney is saying King jumped the gun on this one.
UPDATE 5 (7:25am CT): Ken Rosenthal’s full write-up is now posted, as well, and it’s similar to Olney’s. The sides are deep in discussions – this is a serious thing, not just a casual chat – but no agreement has been reached. The financial side of things is particularly sticky, given the Yankees’ desire to get under the luxury tax cap next year (while still being able to re-sign Robinson Cano). To that end, they’ll probably want the Cubs to cover the vast majority of Soriano’s 2014 salary ($18 million), even if the Yankees pay much of what Soriano is owed for the rest of this season (about $7.25 million). If the Cubs are going to do that, though, Rosenthal says they’ll want a good prospect (as they should).
UPDATE 6 (8:19am CT): If you haven’t seen it, I have my own update to offer on the financial side of this deal. Acquiring Soriano could actually help the Yankees in their quest to get under the $189 million luxury tax cap next year. Here’s how.
UPDATE 7 (8:24am CT): Joel Sherman implies that the Cubs are looking at late-inning relief prospects in a deal for Soriano, noting that the Cubs had recently scouted AAA reliever Chase Whitley. The 24-year-old righty has decent numbers through his minor league career, but he doesn’t quite have the K/BB numbers that you’d like to see from a true relief prospect.
UPDATE 8 (10:06am CT): Bruce Levine reports that the Yankees’ top scout has been following the Cubs on this road trip. The question is whether he’s watching solely Soriano, or if other pieces could be involved.
UPDATE 9 (10:27am CT): Jed Hoyer was just on MLBN Radio (h/t Tony Andracki), saying that the rumor is getting way ahead of the actual talks here, and that no deal for Soriano is close. That’s pretty much what you’d expect him to say, but it also could very well be true, given the reporting so far.
UPDATE 10 (10:33am CT): Carrie Muskat echoes the “nothing imminent” language, but confirms that the teams are talking.