The big buzz just before I stepped out yesterday was the injury (broken arm due to a HBP) to Curtis Granderson that will have him out 8 to 10 weeks. It has started the Alfonso Soriano rumor mill again and Jon Heyman is among the first to suggest the Yankees trade for Soriano.
It makes sense but I can't help but feel a bit skeptical about whether it can get done. The Yankees have not been willing to give up anything of value for Soriano in the past. They've wanted the Cubs to pay nearly all the freight and take back a marginal prospect in return. The Cubs have no interest in making that type of deal, nor should they.
The Cubs have said they're willing to pay most of Soriano's salary but they will only do so if they get value in terms of a prospect or young player. It's not hard to understand why. Soriano still has value to the Cubs. He has value in the clubhouse as a leader and his work ethic makes him a role model to many of the Cubs younger players. But it's not just those kind of intangibles -- he also has value on the field. He is easily the team's best source of RH power and his improvement in LF has made him more than adequate defensively.
Soriano is also not blocking any prospects right now. Jorge Soler is a couple of years away and the Cubs want to give Brett Jackson some time in AAA -- even if he's not willing to concede that himself right now.
There is no reason for the Cubs to trade Soriano right now unless they recoup that value he currently brings to the team.
“If we can get him to a winner and get a good package back we'd consider it. We haven't even been tempted yet,'' Cubs president Theo Epstein said. “He's a valuable guy here. He's more valuable to us than anything we've been offered … by far.''
So if the Yankees really do want him, they're going to have to come get him. And they're going to have to be willing to offer fair value. The Cubs don't need to do them any favors, and if the Yankees think they can still compete in the AL East with the likes of Ichiro Suzuki, Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz as their outfielders, then more power to them.
They're certainly going to need it....at least for a month.
On the Yankees side, you have to wonder how much this really changes the picture for them. Granderson was hurt early enough in spring training where he won't actually miss much of the regular season, perhaps he'll only miss April. If that's he case, I don't see them changing their philosophy on trading prospects for a short term fix.
The greater opportunity to trade Soriano will be mid to late season, when such an injury could be potentially devastating for a contender. It would also mean less money would have to change hands, which is the biggest obstacle to dealing the highly paid veteran. It's a lesser commitment for the buy team so it cuts down the risk as well. Lastly it's more likely that Soriano will approve a deal later in the season when he sees the Cubs are out of contention. He wants to be part of a winning team in Chicago and believes there is a chance they can contend this year. If the Cubs are not competing for a title, as most people expect, he's more likely to move on at the end of his contract to a team that has a chance to help him get that first ring of his career.