In an offseason that continues to leave a lot to be desired, the last 24-hours have been all the more disappointing. In addition to the news that free-agent outfielder Scott Hairston signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Cubs as reported by FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting this morning that pending physical, All-Star outfielder Justin Upton has been traded to the Atlanta Braves in a six-player swap.
While it appeared adding Hairston was the more realistic opportunity for the Yankees, they were also mentioned as a potential suitor for Upton and needless to say, with the void of a right-handed outfielder still glaring on this projected 2013 Yankees roster, losing out on both is a certainly a punch in the gut. While the offseason additions of veteran journeymen Russ Canzler and Matt Diaz could prove to have "serviceable" impacts in facing left-handed pitching, there might be one final option out there for general manager Brian Cashman to kick the tires on. However, it's hard to even speculate if this could come to fruition with Hal Steinbrenner's edict of reducing payroll. Never the less, the other side of a potential deal would be willing to eat the majority of the existing deal.
Why not explore a trade for former Yankee and current Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano?
While there are two years left on his current deal at $36 million, Heyman noted in early December that the Cubs would be willing to eat $26 million of the remaining balance. While reports vary what Cubs general manager Theo Epstein would want from a talent perspective in return, if they are willing to eat a vast majority of the existing portion of Soriano's deal, why not look into it?
Again, at this point it's far-fetched and can't reiterate enough how speculative this really is. However, taking a glance at Soriano's production in the batters box and on the field, while also remembering his previous experience in the Bronx, this could be a worthwhile move to be made. This past season, Soriano mashed 32 home-runs and drove in 108 runs with a batting average of.262. However, while 24 of those home runs and 83 of those runs-batted-in occurred while feasting off of right-handed pitching, Soriano also maintained an on-base percentage of .342 and a .260 batting average while facing left-handers. Additionally, the 108 RBIs were a new career-high for Soriano.
Defensively, Soriano had arguably the best year of his career, committing only one error in 143 games started in left field. Simply put, for the prowess Soriano would add as a right-handed bat and potentially manning the designated hitter position, his improved defense would make him a solid start in the outfield from time to time.
Now yes, Soriano is 37 years old and isn't the young buck he was when he made his debut for the Yankees in 1999. However, with only two years left on his current deal and the anticipation that current Yankees center-fielder Curtis Granderson will explore a long-term deal after the 2013 season (the type of deal the Yankees are looking to avoid), the Yankees could shift current left-fielder Brett Gardner over to center-field and safely pencil in Soriano for the left-fielder slot in 2014.
Simply put, this is a deal that financially could meet the Yankees financial objectives, however it's extremely unlikely at this point. As Epstein has yet to publicly declare he's unwilling to trade Soriano, Cashman has yet to show any signs of pulling off a move this late in the offseason.
While the addition of a veteran right-handed hitter whose three-year averages include over 27 home runs and 90 RBIs would be an impressive pull so close to spring training, it's more likely a combination of Canzler and Diaz will vie for the right-handed role off the bench in the Yankees outfield. In addition, Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez should see ample opportunity in the designated hitter spot while getting occasional starts at shortstop and third base.
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