Alfonso Soriano ready to try the pinstripes back on
Alfonso Soriano said goodbye to his Cubs teammates on Thursday in Arizona, then boarded a red-eye flight here to New York. If the deal was 99 percent completed last night, as we hammered out in those stories from Arlington, it’s 99.99999 percent done as I type this right now.
The only remaining hurdle was Major League Baseball approving the transaction due to the money involved, and that’s just a formality at this point. Soriano is going to be in pinstripes this weekend, and the YES Network’s Jack Curry has already reported that Soriano will be issued his old uniform No. 12, having negotiated it away from Vernon Wells.
Update — it’s now 100 percent official. Soriano is batting cleanup for the Yankees tonight vs. Tampa Bay.
Yankees captain Derek Jeter made sure to point out he was not speaking for the front office this week in Texas (these days in Yankee-land, it’s best to parse your words carefully when speaking publicly, a fact Jeter knows very well) but he also left little doubt that Soriano would be welcomed back into the clubhouse quite easily.
“Everybody knows how I feel about Sori,” Jeter said. “I said it when we traded for Al — he’s someone that you develop a relationship with and you miss them when they leave. We had a great relationship. … He had a lot of power, stole a lot of bases. Sori did a lot when he was here. He was pretty exciting.”
The Yankees are reportedly surrendering Class-A pitcher Corey Black in the deal, and the Cubs are picking up all but about $6.8 million of the approximately $24.5 million Soriano is owed through 2014, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. About $5 million of that is expected to count toward next year’s payroll for the Yankees.
“I’ve changed a lot,” Soriano said yesterday. “I have a lot of memories with the Yankees, and how those players treated me and how they treated people, and that’s what I took with me. Now, I go back, and it makes me more excited because I’ve learned a lot about baseball, and I learned a lot personally.
“Those veteran guys like Mariano [Rivera], Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Bernie [Williams], those guys helped me a lot,” he said. “I used to be a rookie, and those guys treated me very well, like a professional, and that’s what I learned, and that’s what I tried to give wherever I go.”
At age 37, Soriano may not be as electric as he once was, but this is sure to be a popular move with the fan base. It also can’t hurt a lineup that has desperately needed some added production, particularly against left-handed pitching, an area where Soriano has actually done quite well this year.
“He’s been a productive player over his career, there’s no doubt about it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said this week. “He’s been an exciting player, a guy that could steal 40 bases, a guy that could hit 40 home runs. He’s been a good player.”