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The New York Yankees have acquired Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs, and he should be in the Bronx tonight. The trade comes nearly a decade after they traded him to the Texas Rangers as part of the Alex Rodriguez deal.
Yankees' offense struggling
Soriano has been putting up solid numbers relatively quietly in Chicago since 2007, and he can upgrade the Yankees' struggling offense.
A year after ranking second in the American League with five runs per game, New York has plummeted to 13th at 3.9 runs per game. The Yankees led the AL in home runs and slugging percentage in 2012. This season, they’re last in slugging and on pace to hit 105 fewer home runs than last season.
Soriano should help those stats. His 17 home runs this season are five more than any Yankee except Robinson Cano.
Even Soriano's mediocre .254 batting average can improve the Yankees, who are hitting .243, their worst team batting average since 1990.
The Yankees haven't had a home run from a right-handed batter in any of their last 26 games, their longest such streak since 1971 (according to the Elias Sports Bureau). Overall, the Yankees have not homered in their last seven games, their longest streak without a home run since 1990 (also seven games).
Soriano won't help defensively
His defense is a separate issue, although he may be a designated hitter in New York. Since 2009, Soriano's minus-43 defensive runs saved rank third-worst among all outfielders and second-worst among left fielders. This season, Soriano has minus-1 defensive runs saved, while Yankees left fielders are at plus-7, tied for fifth-best in baseball.
Soriano chasing milestones
Soriano hit leadoff for the Yankees in 2002 and 2003, and although he seems unlikely to supplant Brett Gardner there in New York, Soriano does rank second in MLB history with 54 career leadoff home runs (Rickey Henderson has 81). His 21 leadoff home runs with the Yankees are third in team history behind Derek Jeter (29) and Henderson (24).
Soriano is also chasing the career double of 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases, needing 11 homers and 20 steals to get there. If he reaches both milestones, he would be the fourth player in baseball history to do so, along with Barry Bonds, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.
Who won the 2004 trade?
Since Feb. 2004 Trade
Another odd angle to Soriano's return to New York is that he could play with Rodriguez, whom he was traded for in February 2004. Since then, Rodriguez only has 11 more home runs than Soriano (302 to 291), though Soriano does have 288 more plate appearances and an OPS 100 points lower (.825 vs .925).
But that difference has come at a significant cost to the Yankees. Including this season, Soriano has been paid $136 million since 2004, less than half of Rodriguez's $275 million in salary over the past decade.