UPDATE 1:00 pm ET: The Chicago Cubs are denying that their discussions with the Yankees about Alfonso Soriano are anything more than preliminary, reports Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. General manager Jed Hoyer spoke on MLB Network Radio Tuesday morning and called the New York Post's report of the two sides nearing a deal "very premature."
Hoyer added that the club has had discussion with "multiple teams" about Soriano, but that no deals are close.
More Yankees: No Shelter from the Storm
The Cubs want a mid-level prospect in return for the veteran outfielder, and are likely to send New York a not insignificant sum of money to cover much of the roughly $24 million owed Soriano through next season. Like the acquisition of Vernon Wells over the winter, King expects that the Yankees would pay most of the $6 million left on Soriano's contract this year so that they can put the money from the Cubs towards his 2014 salary and keep their goal of getting under the $189 million luxury tax threshold alive.
Soriano had a bit of a renaissance at the plate last year, but hasn't really aged well through his 30s. The righty slugger still has a bit of pop in his bat, but whatever little on-base skills he had as a younger player have completely evaporated. He's batting .256/.286/.471 with 17 home runs in 92 games on the year, which looks really bad until you compare it to the Yankees' production in left field this season (.224/.268/.337)
Soriano, 37, owns a full no-trade clause -- which he used to block a deal to the Giants last season -- but he'll reportedly waive it for the opportunity to return to New York. Originally purchased by the Yankees from the NPB's Hiroshima Carp in September 1998, Soriano quickly worked his way into the starting second base gig in the Bronx, manning the position full-time from 2001-2003.
In a bit of coincidence, the Yankees sent Soriano to the Texas Rangers after the 2003 season in exchange for Alex Rodriguez, whom Soriano will now likely supplement in the lineup (sort of) if he returns to the Pinstripes.