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alfonso soriano hittingAh, 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.

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    George Constanza!

  • X the Cubs Fan

    Montgomery

  • preacherman86

    Y not betances or banuelos? If we are paying him anyway we better get a good piece back because he could just as well be on our team if its our money. Dude is a great teammate and example for the youngsters, not an enigma we need to dump like big z

    • jeff1969

      I think Banuelos would be perfect but he is out for the season. Maybe the Cubs ask for him & hope he recovers. Before being injured he was a top prospect and the Cubs know TJ surgery. Bettances seems like he’s getting his act together as a reliever, is 25, and still 6’8. Other guys I think the Cubs should consider especially if they are going to be paying as much salary as is being reported include Greg Bird (not catching anymore, playing 1B, which lowers his value a little, but he’s hitting well & he walks a bunch), Jose Campos, Jose Ramirez, and Nick Turley (all starting pitchers, all young, Turley is LH). I like the Banuelos idea though. I know the Yankees especially seem to have year after of year of overrated prospects who flame out, but Banuelos might be a #2 starter type if he recovers & would be worth the gamble imo. Bettances? Not so much. He might be a closer type candidate, but has major control issues. It’s exciting to be discussing actually any kind of return for Sori. I like him but…

  • Smackafilieyo

    I’d really like Nelson Cruz take suspension…rip someone top prospects from the rangers….btw “Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that the Dodgers are not pursuing Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.”

    The Dodgers have been considered one of the favorites to sign Gonzalez, with one general manager recently telling Peter Gammons of MLB.com that the club could be willing to go to five years and $50 million, but it appears that they have backed out of the running. The Braves, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays, Twins, and Marlins are among the other teams who have reportedly shown interest in the 26-year-old right-hander. It’s believed that he could sign somewhere as soon as this week.

  • Starlin Backer

    Good prospect or financial relief. If not, no deal.

  • The Dude

    This is the trade I’ll have the most emotional attachment too. I’ve grown to absolutely love Soriano and would really like to see him retire a Cub. I understand that it’s all about gathering prospects to increase the probability of finding young, inexpensive talent but Sori’s been such a class act through thick and thin.

    I remember going to my first ever Cubs night game with my brother (he’s a Sox fan). I live in Cali and flew into town for the weekend, so it was a rare night where me and bro could put back a few beers together. Anyway, Sori got booed hard that night for striking out and I was talking with my brother about how pathetic it was for these fans to be booing their own team’s player at home. Ever since then, I’ve rooted for Sori, not only because he’s a Cub, but also on a merciful level. It’s been great to see him have a couple nice bounce back seasons… better get a solid return on this one.

  • todd mccombs

    How come All these teams are interested in Soriano – Texas and other teams are said to be interested also – Could it be the guy is still a good baseball player. Just a thought

    because i am “the stupid cub fan”

    • gocatsgo2003

      Yes… a pretty good but expensive player who does not figure into the Cubs’ (or any team really, given his age) long-term plans. If the Cubs can flip him for one or two decent prospects while saving a little coin, it is probably in better service to the long-term plan than if we let him play out the year in Wrigley.

  • William

    Why are we looking for a late inning relief prospect in exchange for a power bat like Soriano? I get trading him, but we should aim a little higher.

  • Kyle

    Maybe a reliever is about go too?

  • Ben

    Could we include someone like Vitters (who could possibly fill in at 3b for yankees temporarily this year or next year) to increase our return? With Olt coming in, Vitters seems expendable to me.

    • Rooster

      Nice suggestion Ben. With Olt and Bryant fighting over 3B why not include him and up the ante.

  • Clark Addison

    If I’m the Yankees, I’d ask for Valbuena, not Vitters.

  • Dale Jr

    Assman come here!!

  • Ivy Walls

    BTW, Junior Lake has just made the idea that there is no AAA prospect pushing Soriano out totally bogus. DeJesus is expected back at the end of the week when Chi goes to SF, Lake moves to LF if Soriano traded, and RF is still covered with Schierholtz.

    The only question then is if Schierholtz is traded than the RF has DeJesus and Gillespie starts in CF. I wonder if the Cubs would call up Ha or acquire another, either way there seems to be enough inventory, especially when Sweeney returns in late Aug or Sept.

    • AB

      If they trade Soriano, they need to hang onto Schierholtz.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “BTW, Junior Lake has just made the idea that there is no AAA prospect pushing Soriano out totally bogus.”

      In four games?

      • MichiganGoat

        Elevated Expectations

        • Kevin

          Rizzo started good too!

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Um, not really: remember, every time he goes more than 4 PA without a big hit, people point to Rizzo’s part-season in SD as the “real” Rizzo.

            At any rate, when guys first get to MLB, pitchers often just see if the guy can hit an MLB fastball. If they can, then they get to see the curves and sliders. I’m sure that Lake will do fine with fastballs: but what he’ll do against good curves and sliders will be another story.

            (That written, Bob Brenley probably is correct: pitchers probably should throw fastballs out of the strike zone, if only to see if guys bite; the Cubs system has a reputation for being full of guys who cannot distinguish strikes from non-strikes.)

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Lake looked bad on some breaking pitches inside in his second game. I didn’t see what he looked like last night.

              Positively, he looks comfortable with breaking stuff low and away. When I saw him in Tennessee last year those pitches were eating him alive. Except for that one he drilled. That one he handled just fine.

              • JB88

                I wasn’t terribly impressed with Skaggs’ breaking ball last night. It looked like he was really struggling to control it and was throwing it as basically a “get it over” pitch.

                I wasn’t watching closely enough to know what Lake did hit out, only wanted to provide that comment that, if Lake did hit a breaking ball out, it wasn’t the most dominating breaking pitch he will likely see during the course of the year.

      • jeff1969

        Amen. Watching Lake, I get the feeling that maybe next week the league sees something, probably obvious, and Lake is suddenly back at AAA & struggling, but I like seeing the kids & seeing guys get a shot. Why not get Vitters up here & establish either value or not. Teams like the Cards & the Braves are always bringing up guys you skipped over when reading the prospect rankings & they make meaningful contributions. Since the Cubs are completely not in the race, I like seeing what they have. It’s fun. Also, watching him learn how to play CF, which is pretty much almost completely new to him, in the majors, is exciting. He has the ability, you can see it when he’s adjusting his reads on the fly in the OF.

      • Jp3

        I’m tempering expectations too but yes in 4 games I think Lake has shown enough to merit a chance to play a corner outfield position for the rest of this SUNK season. CF is too much for him, he’s made that obvious but if Soriano goes who has earned more time than him? Gillispie, Vitters, Burbon? C’mon man he’s earned some significant playing time if by nothing else default.

      • North Side Irish

        Four games is an eternity in the Twitter Era…

        • Jp3

          I personally think as long as Vitters is healthy he’s at least the right handed part of a platoon in LF but obviously thE FO is far superior to us in the evaluation of our own talent so if they are running him out there they obviously know something is there…and a lack of options I guess.

      • Ivy Walls

        typical small sample size sentiment throwing cold water over the hyperbole but the reality is

        AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
        17 1 9 1 0 1 3 1 2 1 4 .529 .556 .765 1.320

        Minors career
        2254 358 611 114 30 47 260 117 44 146 579 .271 .322 .411 .732

        AA career
        647 97 173 36 5 16 67 40 14 48 165 .267 .326 .413 ,738

        AAA career
        156 30 46 10 2 4 18 14 5 10 33 .295 .341 .462 .803

        I think the kid has begun to put it all together. Can’t sneeze at 1.320 OPS

        Sure he is hot on fire but he can at least platoon well and probably play defense even better than Soriano.

    • Cedlandrum

      whoa, whoa, whoa…. you have fallen victim to the Junior Lake hype. he is exciting, but he isn’t going to keep this up long term. Teams will start to throw the off-speed stuff more often and then you will see the holes. They won’t give him a first pitch to hit. He will make more errors. Then he will go all crazy again and you will fall in love again. In fact he is a very similar type player to Soriano. When he is good, he is really good. When bad, really bad.

      • Brad Brewer

        If he can have a Soriano career more power to him!!!

        • Jason

          I’d take a couple National years and put them in Lake

      • Kevin

        what?

  • Smackafilieyo

    8:11am: The Cubs scouted 24-year-old Triple-A right-hander Chase Whitley over the weekend, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Whitley has a 3.52 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 38 1/3 innings this season.

    Sherman adds that right-handed relief is one area where the Yankees feel they’re deep in young. In addition to Whitley, they have Preston Claiborne and Shawn Kelley at the Major League level and prospects Dellin Betances, Danny Burawa and Tommy Kahnle on the way.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for adding this – just to point out, that’s in the updates up there.

  • Don

    Looks like we may get more than that six pack of beer for Soriano. Any return would be great.

  • cubzfan

    Just for kicks, possible September lineups if the Cubs trade everybody rumored:
    vs. RH: Watkins, Castro, Rizzo, Sweeney, Olt, Bogusevic, Lake, Castillo
    vs. LH: Lake, Castro, Rizzo, Olt, Vitters, Castillo, Gillaspie, Murphy
    Starters: Samardzija, Wood, Jackson, Rusin, Grimm, Arrieta
    Relievers: Strop, Parker, Guerrier, Rondon, some others

    What winning percentage does that team have? .425?

    • On The Farm

      Considering most of these guys are AAA guys, and the Iowa Cubs are hovering around .500, I think its reasonable to think that it’s a .500 team

      • Jason

        I only temper that expectation because the teams in the MLB are a little more talented then AAA

      • AB

        “and the Iowa Cubs are hovering around .500, I think its reasonable to think that it’s a .500 team”

        This is a joke, right??

        • Ivy Walls

          I think if Soriano is traded for more relief value, as Gregg also, unless the Cubs are WOW’ed by some desperation the roster through August (barring injury) will be:

          OF: DeJesus (CF), Schierholtz/Gillespie(RF), Lake/Bogusevic(LF), Sapelt or Borbon?

          IF Castro, Barney/Valbuena (2B), Rizzo, Olt/Valbuena
          C Castillo/Navarro

          SP: Samardzija, Wood, Jackson, Villaneuva, Grimm or Arietta or Rusin
          RP Strop, Parker, Russell*, Bowden, Rondon, Guerrier, (Grimm, Arietta, or Rusin)

          *Cubs could move Russell as well for value. This team could surprise people, now with power but with versatility, fundamental play and continued starting pitching with sound relief.

          When September happens things could change ever more.

    • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

      That’s assuming they trade DeJesus, Schierholtz, Barney, Soriano, Gregg & Russell? Looks like Brett’s gonna be busy.

      • On The Farm

        And Baker, unless he was just an omission

        • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

          …And Valbuena.

  • RizzoCastro

    Soriano to the Yankees is something I have been saying for weeks. He can play LF/DH which they need some RH power and he can provide just that. I think we can get back at least someone in the BP maybe 2.

  • dash

    Elevated expectations are a big part of the reason I put on my blue hat with the big C every day!

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    OF Bryant Lake Vitters
    3rd Olt
    SS Castro
    2nd Valbuena
    1st Rizzo
    C Castillo

  • Chris

    Bryant will not be up this year

  • Mick

    Help me make sense of this, the Cubs are paying $19 million for what?? A middle under whelming middle reliever? What conceivable benefits would the Cubs have by trading Soriano for something they could sign in the offseason for $2 million? Or pay $5 million on a reliever and flip him at next year’s deadline. The only way this makes sense to me is if we’re getting that reliever and Gary Sanchez.

    • Jason

      Trying to open up a position to see who else can fit in there. Sori won’t be around when they get competitive so he just fills a position on a sub 500 team. Plus I think the Cubs would like to move him where he can get a ring if possible.

  • Ricky

    If Soriano is moved, does that open up a clear spot for Lake? I know there was some fuzziness around his role once DeJesus comes back.

  • Smackafilieyo

    OF Soler, Almora, Bryant
    3rd Olt
    2nd Baez
    SS Castro
    1st Rizzo
    C Castillo

    Looks way better

    • Smackafilieyo

      Future big league lineup for 2016 cubs??

    • Mick

      Who leads off, Almora? I think I’d rather see Alcantara at SS/2B and Castro traded for the 2nd wave of prospects.

      • Smackafilieyo

        I like your idea…my lineup was not the batting order. For some odd reason I feel Baez gets traded first of the big four because he’s not Epstein ‘s guy or his philosophy. I like Alcantara too.

        • Chris

          sure, trade castro who has two all star appearances and someone who is a proven hitter and trust all the prospects that haven’t played a game in the majors. Very smart

          • Mick

            Yea, very smart! Wait, were you talking about me?

    • Ivy Walls

      too right handed

  • Jason

    I don’t think/hope that anyone thinks that Junior is going to keep batting over 500 but he does give us a small sample of what he can do. He had 4 hits last night. two bunt singles (speed), a solid line drive (contact), and a shot that may not have landed yet (power). Plus he got to every ball that I saw. Sure he will have some hiccups but he is really young. Side note, what is Castro’s BA since Lake was called up? They were roomies a little bit ago so maybe that is helping Castro.

    Remember up until Baez and the boys were coming up, Lake was regarding as a top 3-5 in our organization regardless on how weak it was.

    • Cedlandrum

      Castro started hitting again before Lake was called up. The highest Lake has been ranked that I can remember is by Baseball America at 8th. That isn’t a knock on Lake as I am very enamored with him and his skills, but he really hasn’t been thought of as an elite prospect, but rather as an extremely talented guy that people don’t trust.

      • Jason

        I think some comes from him being in the system so long (17 years old) that people lose sight that he still very young. I’m not saying that he will dominate but as the MLB goes, pitchers make adjustments, then hitter re-adjust. The question will be if he can re-adjust. I hope he does because they mentioned the “Lake Effect” a couple of times last night I didn’t get tired of it!!

  • cms0101

    If I had to guess, the Yankees could be watching Navarro too. They are getting nothing from their current catcher tandem. Another bat in that lineup in a position they’re lacking in could help the Cubs net something tangible, combined with Soriano.

  • Chris

    How about the throw that Lake hit Rizzo with from center yesterday? He learned to keep the throw down after his first toss. Wow that second throw was a liner and would have hit the catcher on no bounce clocked at about 95

    • Ivy Walls

      ironically the Rockies radio announcers kept saying Lake had a soft arm, (bad scouting report or simply they made it up on Friday), anyway then he did a fly over Castillo on Sunday they changed their tune and said we must have a bad scouting report, now with that throw it shows he responds to good coaching.

  • Funn Dave

    If we end up eating most of his salary, we’d better get a damn good prospect in return.

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  • Jsj

    Hb sori for joba?

  • Fastball

    Sori’s Fathead is in my man cave. I am not taking it down. If the Yankees can only send us a midling prospect then we should not do a deal. He isn’t killing the Cubs payroll. That aspect of this should not be a big deal. He is the only high priced player left on the roster. His intangible/values are significant to the organization. Plus, I am old school. I believe a guy should be able to retire and be a Cub forever.

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