Revisiting the Alfonso Soriano trade

Game 12: Derek out with a cold
Mitchell rebounds well in second Double-A start

When the Rangers and the Yankees square off, I always think about Alfonso Soriano and today’s Texas second baseman Joaquin Arias. As we all know, he was the Arlington-bound centerpiece of the package the Yanks dashed off to Texas in exchange for Alex Rodriguez, and Arias was the player the Rangers selected from the Yanks’ organization.

This afternoon, while I ducked out of the living room and had to listen to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman for a few minutes, Waldman mentioned how the Yanks almost gave up Robinson Cano in that trade. I didn’t recall that and went digging for answers. I found a Jim Callis piece from 2004. The Baseball America scribe wrote, “Though initial speculation was that New York would give up a pitching prospect, baseball sources say the five-man list contains four hitters, including outfielder Rudy Guillen, shortstop Joaquin Arias and second baseman Robinson Cano, as well as righthander Ramon Ramirez.”

Eventually, Callis amended his list to include Bronson Sardinha and replaced Ramirez, today a pitcher with the Red Sox, with Jose Valdez. The Rangers on March 23 took Arias, and since 2004, they’ve waited and waited for him to arrive. This year marks his fourth season with an appearance in the Majors, and his track record is inconsistent. He had an impressive cup of coffee in 2006, missed most of 2007 to injuries, played 32 games in Texas in 2008 and played in AAA in 2009. For 2010, he’s hitting over .400 and may, at age 25, may finally be developing into a Major League infielder.

The Yanks don’t miss Arias because they have Robinson Cano, and it’s only through that twist of baseball fate that Cano stuck around. The team offered him to the Rangers, and the Rangers went with Arias. As Cano matures into the team’s number five hitter, I’m happy to see him in pinstripes, and the A-Rod trade would have looked much different had the Rangers opted for the right player.

Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano has been in the news these days but for all of the wrong reasons. The Cubs, Dan McGrath writes in The Times today, don’t know what to do with him. The Cubs owe him $90 million and have him under contract through 2014. Yet, at age 34, he’s falling apart. His knees aren’t healthy, and his foot and bat speed are both on the wane. He hit .241/.303/.423 in 117 games and stole a career-low nine bases. His offense has picked up this weekend, but his defense in left field has taken a turn for the worse.

Since leaving the Yanks, Soriano has hit a very respectable .275/.328/.514 with 193 home runs. I thought the Yanks would miss him more than the team has. He gained two years after his real age came out following the trade, and his years as a 30/30 player seem to be behind him. I’ll take A-Rod – and Robinson Cano.

Game 12: Derek out with a cold
Mitchell rebounds well in second Double-A start
  • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

    At least Arias did ammount to something. Would have been worse for the Rangers to acquire one of Guillen, Sardinha or Valdez.

  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

    Besides Canó, what other legit position guys have the Yankees developed, and kept, since the Jeter/Pettitte/Rivera/JoPo thing?

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Does Melky count? Brett Gardner? Francisco Cervelli? They’re not stars, but they’re pieces that fit right now.

      • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

        Juan Rivera, Nick Johnson, Dioner Navarro and D’Angelo Jimenez come to mind. They didn’t stay very long with the Yankees but had more or less Major League success.

        • Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

          You’re ignoring the ‘and kept’ part of the question, though the players you selected are interesting.

          I loved D’Angelo Jimenez when he came up, then he got into that awful wreck.

          • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

            If by ‘kept’ you mean ‘styed with the Yankees for their whole career or until today’, then no, those don’t count. But I doubt there would be anyone besides Cano, Cervelli, Gardner and Pena.

            Rivera and Johnson were with the Yankees several years until the were traded for Javy Vazquez. Navarro and Jimenez at least had some time with the Yankees before they were traded.

            Thames is another product of the farm system that some success in the majors.

            • Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

              Right. That is what I meant =)

              But you are right. There are many who have gone on to have success elsewhere.

              • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

                I just looked up the Yankees draft picks from 1990 till 2005 to see which major league position players came that route. That obviously leaves out the international singnings, but so what:

                1990: Carl Everett, Rickey Ledee, Kevin Jordan, Tom Wilson, Jorge Posada, Shane Spencer (nice haul, plus Andy Pettite)
                1991: Lyle Mouton
                1992: Derek Jeter
                1993: Chad Moeller
                1994: Brian Buchanan
                1995: Mike Lowell (plus Casey Blake, who didn’t sign)
                1996: Nick Johnson, Marcus Thames
                1997: none
                1998: Nook Logan (did not sign)
                1999: Andy Phillips
                2000: none
                2001: Shelley Duncan, Omir Santos
                2002: none
                2003: none
                2004: Chris Davis (did not sign)
                2005: Brett Gardner

                Not a whole lot since 1996 but at least some success with the international signings in Cano, Jimenez, Soriano, Navarro, Melky etc.

        • dalelama

          Christian Guzman I believe also was a Yankee farmhand at one time….

      • Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

        No, yes, yes.

        (Melky is legit, but the Yankees didn’t keep him. He was, of course, a key piece to the puzzle last year, but in 2010, he is not still a Yankee. Though sometimes I wish he was.)

        • whozat

          Kept means forever? He played several seasons for them. You’re basically asking how many cornerstone pieces the Yanks developed.

          • Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

            I know.

    • mbonzo

      Does Austin Jackson count?

  • W.W.J.M.D.

    The last couple years I dreamed of a way we could bring back Soriano to play LF. Nowadays I’m glad it never happened and disappointed to hope for such a terrible thing.

    • YankeesJunkie

      No kidding, now the Cubs will have to live with that contract for the next five years where he is not going to give them that much great production.

      • Hangoverologist

        There actually was some talk that the Cubs would release Soriano, but no one would take him, right? The Cubs would have had to eat all of the contract.

        • YankeesJunkie

          He he starts hitting closer to what he did in 2008 rather than 2009 which was below average they may trade him. However, the Cubs would have to eat most of that contract since he won’t be more than a 3 WAR player if he bounces back.

        • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

          I’d take him for the league minimum if he was released, he still has a lot of power. But putting in a waiver claim? No way! His contract is about the same as Rios whom the White Sox claimed last year. But Rios is at least a good defender and several years younger then Soriano.

          • pete

            rios is a good defender?

            • pete

              **checks fangraphs, realizes that up until last year, rios was actually an excellent defender**

              • andrew

                **goes and sits in corner**

        • W.W.J.M.D.

          There are talks of releasing him the season before his contract ends which would be 2014 but the GM said there wasn’t any truth to that.

  • Mike P

    I don’t think the A-Rod trade has looked like a bad one for a single second since it was announced. Would have been annoying to lose Cano, but still worth it. A-Rod is incredible.

    • YankeesJunkie

      I think people would maybe after a different opinion before 2009, but the A-Rod deal has been a steal for the Yankees and even though A-Rod is 35 he is still a guy that is good for 30 homers and 100 ribbies if he stays healthy the entire year.

      • W.W.J.M.D.

        I think people would maybe after a different opinion before 2009, but the A-Rod deal has been a steal for the Yankees and even though A-Rod is 35 he is still a guy that is good for 30 homers and 100 ribbies if he stays healthy the entire year for the remainder of his contract.


  • Zack

    “I’ll take A-Rod – and Robinson Cano.” + 71m Texas sent up

  • W.W.J.M.D.

    I think people would maybe after a different opinion before 2009, but the A-Rod deal has been a steal for the Yankees and even though A-Rod is 35 he is still a guy that is good for 30 homers and 100 ribbies if he stays healthy the entire year. for the remainder of his contract.

    • W.W.J.M.D.

      Reply fail.

    • YankeesJunkie

      Ehh, I will be interested to see what type of hitter A-Rod will be in his last three years of his contract when he is 40-42. There is no reason to believe that he will be a good hitter, but I can’t see him hitting cleanup at that point. Hopefully as A-Rod ages his eye gets better and can be put in the #5 or #6 hole and still hit 20 homers, but you never know A-Rod is a once in a generation player.

  • Wilcymoore27

    The “A-Rod for Soriano + a player” trade was a fair deal for both sides when made. But I for one was not sorry to see Soriano go. His performance in the 2003 post-season, where he basically imploded … swung at practically every pitch no matter where it was … soured me on him permanently. He never had a batter’s eye, and was the converse of a good-OBP guy.

    Soriano went on to have some good seasons with Texas, the National, and the Cubs, but the Yankees obviously got the best of the deal. Alex will still be playing well when Soriano has retired.

    As for the Cubs … still owing $90 million to a declining Soriano … it’s decisions like that that make them the Cubs.

  • Pete C.

    It’s a shame about Soriano’s health. In his second or third year SI did an article on how much he could and did eat. I believe Choco Taco’s were a favorite.

  • Barry

    When you add in the money the Yanks received this is a ridiculous win for our front office. I do remember Soriano’s years fondly though; when he was with us he was something else to watch.

  • Alan

    In hindsight, would you have done A-rod for cano and soriano?