The New York Yankees may soon reunite with a lad they last new as a promising young star who played a passable second base, didn’t have much plate discipline, but could hit, hit for power and run like few others in the sport. Alfonso Soriano looked like a longtime Yankees cornerstone to lead them through the 2000s, but a bunch of randomness happened in the offseason following the 2003 season: the Red Sox traded for Texas Ranger and consensus best player in the game, Alex Rodriguez, that trade was voided by the Commissioner’s office due to the pay cut A-Rod had agreed to take, Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone hurt himself playing basketball, and the Yankees traded Soriano for A-Rod, and they got to keep him. (The deal also included Joaquin Arias, who did little to make this deal something other than Soriano for A-Rod.)
Now, with Rodriguez yet to play a game this season, Jeter hurt, Mark Teixiera out for the season and Vernon Wells remembering after a month or two that he is terrible, the Yankees are looking for some offense and Soriano, of the Chicago Cubs, is one of the best bats available. The Cubs are jettisoning players who won't help them win in the next five years and Soriano is next on the list after Matt Garza was traded to the Texas Rangers. Like in 2003, the Yankees are an obvious destination because Soriano, like A-Rod, is seriously overpaid. Soriano will make around $6 million the rest of this year and $18 million in 2014 (due to an egregious mistake made by the previous Cubs regime). Expect the Yankees to pick up most of that and give little in return.
I thought about doing a “Who’s Been Better Since The Trade?” story about A-Rod and Soriano, but a quick look at their stats shows that it is not close: Alex Rodriguez was one of the best players in baseball for his first few years as a Yankee, and even in his lackluster seasons, he was at least an average Soriano. According to Fangraphs, A-Rod has accumulated 41 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) since the trade. That’s two-thirds of a Hall of Fame career. Soriano had a couple of great seasons, and a handful of meh seasons. His WAR in that same period is 28. That’s not close.
However, Soriano has settled in to being a passable left fielder who swings too much but has some power and can still help a team with his bat. He’s even money to be a more valuable Yankee in 2014 than A-Rod, and if the Yankees manage to make the playoffs this year, they may have Soriano to thank.