alfonso soriano hittingOriginally in the lineup for tonight, Theo Epstein reportedly has told Dale Sveum to pull Alfonso Soriano because a trade is close. We’ve been following this for days now, and it has seemed like Soriano to the Yankees was an inevitability for a while.

We’ll keep following as the details come down.

UPDATE: Sveum told the media that the deal is 99% done, which is not a lock, but is obviously enough to get Soriano out of the lineup.

UPDATE 2 (6:45pm CT): Just a thought – Alfonso Soriano deserves to be applauded on the way out of town. Whatever you think of the contract, he worked hard and led by example. He was a huge part of the 2007 and 2008 teams, which is what he was brought in to be. From there, he worked his ass off and helped mold the Cubs’ young players. The Cubs are ready to move on, as they should, but he’ll be missed.

UPDATE 3 (6:53pm CT): Buster Olney reports that it’s a “lower-tier pitching prospect” coming to the Cubs, assuming the deal is completed. It will be interesting to see how much salary the Cubs are eating if that’s the case.

UPDATE 4 (6:57pm CT): Olney adds that the Cubs are eating the “bulk” of the $25 million remaining on Soriano’s deal. To me, that simply doesn’t comport with “lower-tier pitching prospect,” but we’ll get there when we get there.

UPDATE 5 (7:07pm CT): One more from Olney: “The bottom line on any Soriano deal: Epstein/Hoyer have had their hands tied by his no-trade clause. Any salary relief would be good.” What Olney is suggesting is that the Cubs ran into a bit of a Dempster situation – albeit a quieter one – where Soriano pretty much wanted to go to the Yankees, and that was that. Emphasis: we don’t know that for sure, but that’s what Olney is suggesting. My response? Unlike with Dempster, where you had an expiring contract and you could get value even with your hands tied, the Cubs don’t have to trade Soriano. I am fascinated by this, and wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see how it all played out.

UPDATE 6 (7:14pm CT): Like I said on the podcast earlier today, we also have to remember on this: if there was really not much of a market for Soriano, and the Cubs simultaneously wanted to clear the deck and give Soriano a chance to win (sometimes, teams are good to players like that – seriously), then that could explain a really soft return. You can only get what you can get, and I don’t want to make it seem as though I’m pining for the top prospect that Soriano was never going to land, no matter how much money the Cubs ate. I just hoped the Cubs could land a decent relief prospect, for example. We’ll see what happens. The difference between a decent relief prospect and virtually nothing is extremely small, so I’m not really going to grouse either way.

UPDATE 7 (7:24pm CT): Olney amplified what he meant by “lower-tier pitching prospect” in his replies on Twitter (h/t Danny), say that he meant a “third tier, Grade B-/C+ type.” The grading system different folks use is a little flabby, because a B- prospect for Soriano would actually be a “whoa, seriously!?” kind of return (in a good way). So I don’t really expect that, but even if it’s a C+ – which is a legit prospect, albeit a flawed one – I’m probably going to be happy. I tend to think Olney means something lower than that, though, based on his “third tier” comment. Hooray for over-parsing of tiny sentences!

UPDATE 8 (7:49pm CT): I think the whole thing with Olney has just been semantics (and kudos to him for digging on this – no criticism here). He says his guess is that the Yankees would be taking on $5 to $8 million of Soriano’s deal, leaving $17 to $20 million for the Cubs. To me, “bulk” is like $22 or $23 million of $25 million. If the Yankees take on, say, $7 million (which is what I would have guessed: they pay this year, Cubs pay the $18 million next year (gives the Yankees a nice luxury tax benefit), that’s not a bad savings for the Cubs. This is why I said “we’ll get there when we get there.” Never good to react too strongly too early in these things.

UPDATE 9 (8:07pm CT): Bob Nightengale says the Cubs and Yankees have agreed on the pitching prospect in the deal, so we’re probably nearing an announcement.

UPDATE 10 (8:35pm CT): Nothing final just yet, says Carrie Muskat. She also reminds us that the Commissioner’s Office has to approve the transfer of cash. I wonder if we might not see the official announcement until tomorrow.

UPDATE 11 (8:55pm CT): Josh Norris, who covers the Trenton Thunder (Yankees AA) for the Trentonian, says he hears from a source that the pitcher in the deal might be Corey Black, a short but very intriguing righty at High-A. That seems like a plausible return, and the kind of guy the Cubs would take a chance on in a deal like this. Don’t take this as gospel, obviously – just one sourced report.

UPDATE 12 (9:02pm CT): Jon Heyman doesn’t think the deal is getting done tonight, given the Commissioner approval requirement. He also phrases the money as the Cubs paying “more than half” of the $25 million.

  • nkniacc13

    b very interesting to see what return is and what $the cubs are paying

  • Larry19

    Always liked him. He was great when he was the leadoff man. Sad to see him go, but totally understand.

    • Rebuilding

      Yeah, for as much as we wanted to shed the contract all of these years it is a little bittersweet. He was what he was and I finally started to enjoy it these last couple of years

  • Webb

    Brett/Luke did you hear Keith Law on Lake this afternoon? Your thoughts? Does it warrant any attention?

    • Adam

      What he say?

    • matty ice

      What was said?

      • Kygavin

        Lake has tools but no idea how to use them basically

        • Webb

          He remarked that he had little to no recognition of off-speed pitches and as soon as he stops seeing fastballs middle-middle things will go downhill quickly. He was not kind in his phrasing either.

          • Cedlandrum

            From what I have seen of him this year at Iowa I agree that he has trouble with off speed pitches. It will be interesting to see if he makes adjustments or not.

            • Eternal Pessimist

              Keith Law’s wording was completely BRUTAL when describing Lake. He can’t seem to understand why pitchers keep throwing him fastballs down the middle. He says once they start throwing him some off speed pitches he will return to earth.

              • Eternal Pessimist

                Oh, and there were the comments about list defensive disability as well. But we can hope he just needed a stage big enough to get him interested.

                • Eternal Pessimist

                  “his defensive….”

                  • Rebuilding

                    It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. Look, most of us are really OCD to be posting on this board so frequently (or maybe that’s just me) but most aren’t like that. Some people have to have the bright light shine on them to take care of the little things. Junior Lake has been dreaming about being a big league ball player probably since he has memories. Now it’s here and he seems to be seizing the moment. Look at Jean Segura’s minor league numbers sometime – and now look what he’s doing and how he looks. Sometimes the lightbulb just comes on

                    • DARRRRRR

                      ???? Not sure I get what you are saying. You mean Jean Segura, the same guy that averaged .313 / .367 / / .439 across every minor league stop. Seems like he pretty much had it together the whole time.

        • Luke

          I’d largely agree with this. “no idea” might a little harsh, but it is pretty clear that Lake is still much more an athlete than he is a baseball player.

          But I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. His baseball skills are progressing pretty well, I think. That sort of implies he has some room for realistic improvement.

          • Rebuilding

            Yeah, Lake is just a total wildcard. It’s not often that an *athlete* becomes a ball player. But it happens – we have one on our roster in Samardzija. I honestly think that being injured this year and just sitting might have helped a guy like that. He looked a little bit different when he came back. Who knows

    • iowacubs

      Are you referring to the “Lake is a con, therefore Cubs cant trade outfielders” comment?

      • Mr. B. Patient

        K.Law called Lake a ‘con’ On another thread I sarcastically said we can’t trade any outfielders because Law said Lake can’t play. My bad.

  • Spencer

    I have a sad.

  • willis

    He provided some spectacular moments for this team. No hard feelings for him at all. He’s been frustrating at times. But he’s also been pretty damn good mostly. Good luck to him.

    • Webb

      My favorite Soriano moment was in 2009 when we had Aaron Miles playing second and pinch hitting against the Cardnals in the 8th inning down by one run. I was in the bleachers and I hated Aaron Miles. Miles draws a walk with Soriano on deck, and then Soriano did the rest. He crushed the ball deep into the left-center bleachers and a mist of golden beer that catches the sun perfectly explodes from the spot where the ball landed. Then Marmol comes in the next half inning and mows down the side for a Cubs win.

      They can be heroes, if just for one day.

  • iowacubs

    Long time comming… With that said. Sori is still gonna be missed in that clubhouse.

  • @cubsfantroy

    I’d rather he stayed and mentored the younger guys, but I understand the need to dump him to get more younger guys in the lineup.

  • ottoCub

    Sad day, but glad to know he is going back to the Yankees to (hopefully) finish his great career where it started.

  • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

    For some reason I did not warm to him like some of the other Cub stars. Grace, Dawson, Sandberg, even Alou. He made more money than all of them combined. I am concerned about where the production is going to come from. It is one thing to point to DeJesus and Schierholtz but then look at their history and realize they are not the type of players to put a team on their back for parts of the season. After Theo joined, I will say that Soriano was a much better Ambassador to the fans, baseball, clubhouse and the rookies. I wish him well and hope he brings back some additional assets.

    • Feeney

      Where will we possibly find a player to replace Sori’s 0.7WAR after 93 games? I actually don’t think it will be that hard.

      • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

        War is one thing. Power production is another. Not sure Cubs have that power hitter today (yet) that can hit dingers in bunches. Rizzo, Bryant, Soler, Olt, Vogelbach, Shoulders, Baez, are on the way. But the current line-up does not put a lot of fear in the long ball.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Well, the Cubs are 3rd in the NL in HR. Replace Sori with an average NL LFer and they would be…. 3rd in the NL in HR. Indeed, you’d have to get one of the worst hitting LFers in the NL to drag the Cubs down to 4th. (The fact that they are 12 up on the Reds and Pirates is a big part of that!)

          The Cubs bigger problem is lack of walks: if they had even an average walk-rate in front of their current slugging, then they would have 3 or 4 more victories this year.

          • Kyle

            Cubs FO did an awesome job in the last year of finding small pockets of marginal extra power all across the lineup. It adds up.

            • Rebuilding

              We lead the league in extra base hits. Which is pretty amazing when you think about it

              • Eternal Pessimist


  • Jp3

    What If he says NO? Theo’s head will explode

    • Jason Powers

      I bet it would never get out, unless he acquiesced.

  • nkniacc13

    Cubs and their fans will miss Sori I think. Its nice that they can make this move back to original team and has a chance of playoffs but cubs now are going to have to get some RH power in that lineup. Hope the cubs don’t end up paying 18 million and end up with a bullpen arm only.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    The return will be very low for those expecting prospects of any magnitude. By that I mean top 20-30 in the Yankee system in real terms. This move is all about sunk costs, gaining whatever salary relief they can, and moving on. And it is the culmination of a brilliant job by Theo and his staff no mater the return,

    • Jason Powers

      Amen. We maybe won’t get surprised, by who knows. What is the value of 37 LF at 18 mil? How many licks to the center of a tootsie pop?

    • nkniacc13

      I don’t expect it to be a great return. I would hope that they get atleast something close to what they got for campana thou Id take a little IFA $ if the cubs aren’t basically punt next years IFA

      • Jason Powers

        Brett can do analysis of the scoop once it hits the wire..

    • Eternal Pessimist

      How crazy is it to say they did a great job with any return? His salary is sunk cost and he still gets you around 25 – 30 homers yearly and his WAR numbers aren’t a joke (just not enough for his salary). Ridiculous to think he should be just given away as if he isn’t useful.

  • Jason Powers

    Opens ups possibilities. Certainly will be a different team next season – and that should be exciting. Could have 4-5 Starters under 25 in the lineup. That’s going to be good, with bunches of bad.

    Here’s to Soriano in NYC! Good Luck and smack a few HRs to get to 400-425 lifetime.

  • Rebuilding

    Never forget these years:

    2007: 299/337/560. 33HR 19SB
    2008: 280/344/532 29HR 19SB

    • Rebuilding

      Sori was a big reason we made the playoffs 2 out of the 5 times we have in 68 years

    • Jason Powers

      OBP .340 – granted, not bad.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      2007 in particular was big: he had a great September, and he might have been the difference between making post-season and not making post-season.

      It’s a little sad for me personally: I remember how excited my dad was when the Cubs signed him, as it was so unusual for the Cubs to sign “the” big name free agent.

  • Eric

    Good by Fonzie. Gonna miss you buddy. Good luck and I hope you win a World Series.

  • Bigg J

    And then there is that pesky 1% that always lingers

  • thejackal

    its sad all them years sori was booed but hes always been a class act even through all the boos and years when he wasnt doing good. he never made any excuses was a good leader im for one sad and one other thing, i never thought id say this but go yanksssssssssssssss lol

  • Cedlandrum

    stands and applauds. Thanks for the years Sori. Best of luck.

    • willis

      I second this. Class act and worked hard for this organization.

  • Adam

    99%, have we learned nothing?

  • Corey

    Good by soriano!! Thanks for all your time!

  • PKJ

    I didn’t much care for him in the first few years because of his refusal to move out of the lead off spot, but I’m happy with how his time with the Cubs was spent. Good luck Sori.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Naw, I thought it was great: all those games that Sori ran out there and dragged Theriot out of the batters box, and then turned around and magically hypnotized the umpire and opposing team into thinking that Sori had been written into the leadoff spot all along: those are precious memories for me! It showed real bellyfire.

  • Joey

    Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN 48s
    Cubs would get a lower-tier pitching prospect if they finish the Soriano deal with the Yankees. They are waiting for his formal waiver.

    • nkniacc13

      That could be interesting

  • demz

    he must of missed that clutch single in the first game against the D-backs which was on a curve.

  • Dustin S

    Been said before, but Sori’s problem was Hendry overpaying after he had a career year. GM 101 you don’t give a guy a huge long-term contract after a career year. Plus, for some reason at the time he was overvalued since most thought of him still as a 2B/OF which wasn’t realistic at all. His stats as even a passable defensive 2B would be borderline HOF numbers. But as a LF, it was a massive overpay. Even at the time of the signing I think all of us were excited and then said, “how long!?!”. Not his fault, and he always kept his head high despite the blame he got for the Cubs financially being hand-tied for many years. Through it all he became a leader, a mentor, and worked hard to improve himself.

  • Jp3

    This may be silly but is it a lock for the Yankees or any other possibilities?

  • FastBall

    I hope the Cubs ownership is smart enough to treat Sori like they have Andre Dawson and some others. Respect the man and that he was a pretty good Cub. He never did anything his entire tenure here to embarrass the organization and was a good Cub embassador IMO. So I hope he is considered a Cub for life. I hope he gets in the playoffs and just lights it up with one of his hot streaks. I hate the Red Sox so I hope like hell he just pounds the crap out of them!!! Go Sori Go.. Now Theo, I hope you can squeeze your old nemisis and make him hurt a little in the pocket book and in his farm system.

  • someday…2015?

    Update 2 says it all. *applauds

  • nkniacc13

    Now where do cubs fans go the Gregg Watch?

  • CastrotoBarneytoRizzo

    Dang it! I was rooting and hoping for an extension…. *sarcasm*

  • Kyle

    Just an observation: We’re almost certainly getting less than we would have for him at this time last year.