Alfonso Soriano is officially back with the New York Yankees. His return should be a boon for the Bombers on two fronts. First, he gives them a much-needed right-handed bat and secondly it takes the focus, albeit temporarily, away from all the tedious drama swirling around Alex Rodriguez’s return to pinstripes.
Coincidentally, Soriano was the player the Yankees dealt to the Rangers in order to acquire Rodriguez back before the 2004 season. Soriano is far-removed from the guy who once hit 46 home runs for the Nationals back in 2006 which helped him land an eight-year $136 million dollar deal from the Cubs, but still useful. As bad as that contract is, the Cubs will pick up $17.7 million of the remaining $24.5 million owed to Soriano.
At 37 years old, the best years are behind Soriano, but he’s still a power threat with 17 homers this season.
The key here is that Soriano gives the Yankees a viable right-handed bat. The club is hitting .235 vs. lefties this season with only 20 home runs. Vernon Wells started quickly but hasn’t hit a home run since May 15. Soriano is slugging .541 vs. lefties with 11 home runs and should immediately slot into the middle of the order.
The Yankees gave up low-level prospects to pick him up and the Cubs dumped a portion of his salary and opened up a spot in the outfield for a younger player as they continue to rebuild. It’s a win-win for both teams.
Adding Soriano might not be enough for the Yankees to keep pace with the Red Sox and surging Rays in the American League East, where they are 6.5 games out, but it’s a big boost for the Wild Card chase where they’re only 2.5 games behind.