The New York Yankees on Sunday announced that they had designated former Cub Alfonso Soriano for assignment, which means they have 10 days to trade, release, or place him on waivers. His average had dropped to .221 this season, and his power numbers were really down with only six homers and 23 RBI in 67 games. He had been sharing right field with Ichiro Suzuki, meaning he was only playing against lefties, and had been struggling in the field too.
The move though according to Manager, Joe Girardi, was made because the team needed pitching help. “We designated Soriano, which is extremely difficult because he’s been a great Yankee and been a great player,” Girardi said. “We felt we needed some more pitching today, so we called up (Bruce) Billings. Bullpen has been extremely taxed.”
The Yankees signed Soriano as a free agent in 1998, and he was called up to the team in 1999. He played for five seasons at second base and finished third in Rookie of the year honors in 2001, while helping the team reach the World Series. In 2004, the team traded him to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez. He put up some good offensive numbers there, but was traded to the Washington Nationals on December 7, 2005, because Texas had Ian Kinsler coming up at the time and Soriano was going to be a free agent at the end of the 2006 season anyway. Once in Washington, Soriano was asked by then Manager, Frank Robinson, to play left field because the team had at the time Jose Vidro at second, and Soriano wasn’t that great on defense there. He refused to do so at first and the team threatened to disqualify him, which would have meant he had to forfeit his salary and upcoming free agency. So, he played where they wanted him, and he became the fourth player in MLB history to have 40 homers, and 40 stolen bases in one season.
The Cubs were coming off a 66-96 2006 season, and they had fired Manager, Dusty Baker, then hired Lou Pinella to replace him. The Chicago Tribune, who owned the team at the time, gave then General Manager, Jim Hendry, a checkbook and told him more or less go spend some money to help improve the team. One of his signings was Soriano, and Pinella put him in left field after a tiny experiment of putting him in center field failed when he suffered a hamstring injury. While with the Cubs, he had some good years, and helped lead them to back to back division titles in 2007 and 2008. However, the team was in the middle of a rebuilding project and under new owners, so he was traded last season back to the Yankees for a minor league pitcher. He promptly hit 17 homers, and 50 RBIs in 58 games. The Cubs agreed to pay $13 million of his $18 million salary, and the Yankees the other five.
Right now he doesn’t know if he’s going to retire or wait for another team to sign him. Good luck to him on whatever is in his future.