Cubs trade Alfonso Soriano to Yankees
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org July 25, 2013 6:58PM
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Nine years ago this last spring, the New York Yankees traded Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez.
Now, in large part because the controversial Rodriguez has been unable to play — and could be in the final weeks of his career — the Yankees have worked out a trade with the Cubs for Soriano to provide missing right-handed production in their lineup.
Rodriguez is in the sixth year of a 10-year, $275 million contract.
Soriano is in the seventh year of an eight-year, $136 million deal.
Here’s how the cosmically linked players — two of the game’s most prominent examples of questionable contracts — have fared since that February 2004 trade:
A-Rod / Soriano
All-Star app.: 7 / 5
Home runs: 302 / 291
RBI: 960 / 816
Stolen bases: 141 / 159
Hits: 1,366 / 1,418
Batting avg.: .292 / .268
Updated: July 26, 2013 10:31PM
PHOENIX — The legacy of Alfonso Soriano’s Cubs career was probably summed up in the postgame scene in the clubhouse at Chase Field on Thursday night.
Already informed he had a red-eye flight to New York to catch because the trade with the Yankees was done, Soriano walked in as a Cub one final time and said goodbye to teammates, who still grabbed him for hugs a half-hour later as he finished dressing and headed out of the room.
“It was emotional for all of us,” manager Dale Sveum said. “You don’t usually gather a team together for goodbyes when a guy gets traded. Obviously, that says something about the kind of person he was.”
“There was a lot of emotion from a lot of guys, for good reason,” pitcher Carlos Villanueva said.The Cubs received Yankees pitching prospect Corey Black, a right-hander who throws in the mid-90s. Black was 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA in 19 starts with Single-A Tampa.
MLB still needed to approve the money changing hands as the Cubs agreed to pick up a substantial amount of the $25 million left on Soriano’s contract. According to a source, the Cubs would pay about $17.7 million of that with the Yankees taking care of the remainder.
“Thank God it’s [over],” he said of the culmination of several days of rumors, along with his decision to waive no-trade rights to allow the deal. “Now I just have to concentrate on finishing strong and to help my new team to win.
“Most difficult for me was leaving my teammates. It’s a little uncomfortable. But it’s baseball. Sometimes you have to do what’s best for the team and best for me and best for the organization.
“It’s sad. That’s the difficult part when you get traded. See your friends when you have to leave for another team. You can be in touch, but it’s not the same. It’s very hard, but now it’s like I have to think about my new team.”
It’s the end of an era for the Cubs.
But Soriano leaves behind a legacy that includes: 181 homers, two All-Star appearances, a reinvented fielding proficiency at 36, a passion for playing every day, a smile that rarely faded, a public accountability that ignored whatever knee or hamstring pain was hampering him at the moment and a unique talent for shrugging off the home-crowd boos that never quite subsided during a Cubs career that ended on the bench Thursday night when the Cubs pulled him from the lineup because of the imminent deal.
“He’s in the top two or three teammates I’ve ever had at any level,” second baseman Darwin Barney said. “He definitely was the leader of this ballclub, no doubt about that.
“It’s going to be sad.”
“I don’t think you’re really prepared to lose somebody of that nature,” Sveum said, “all the stuff that he brings to the team, the fourth hole, the character in the clubhouse, the leadership and everything. You just don’t replace that.
“There’s no doubt he was one of the top-five ultimate professionals I’ve ever been around in the game.”
History may not put Soriano in the lofty tier of Cubs lore it reserves for Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg.
But it surely will reserve loftier heights for his time in Chicago than suggested by some of the media criticism and booing he endured as a result of his $136 million free-agent deal.
“I don’t care what the fans do,” he said in a recent conversation with the Sun-Times, “because they see the contract. But I don’t play for the money. If I played for the money, I’d have gone to a different team.”
A little-known fact about Soriano’s big contract, he told the Sun-Times, is that he believed he was taking less money than other teams had on the table to sign with the Cubs and try to become part of championship history.
There was at least one team, he said, that told his agent to let it beat any other offer before letting Soriano sign.
“I said, no, I just want to sign with Chicago because I want to be a champion in Chicago,” he said.