Sep 7, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Alfonso Soriano (12) hits a single into left field in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports.

Will Alfonso Soriano Remain A Dominant Player?

When the New York Yankees traded for this former superstar, it was like reuniting with an old high school friend. Alfonso, how’s it been? How was your trip to Washington? And Chicago? And that foreign exchange program in Texas?

It has been nine years, nine months, and nine days since the Yankees transferred Soriano for Alex Rodriguez. While A-Rod was crushing the ball on the east coast (like him or not he did win MVP twice), Alfonso Soriano performed well in his two seasons with the Texas Rangers, earning all-star and silver slugger honors at second base. A December 8, 2005 trade sent Soriano to the Washington Nationals for Armando Galarraga, Terrmel Sledge, and Brad Wilkerson.

Ironically, neither team won in this deal; Soriano only stayed in the nation’s capital for one season while the trio for the Rangers never made a lasting impact there. However, the former Yankee went through a position change from second base to the outfield, and became just the fourth player to surpass 40 homers and 40 steals in the same season, after Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, and  Rodriguez.

As great of a season 2006 was, Soriano entered free agency as a transcendent 31 year-old ball player who could hit, run, and throw (22 outfield assists in 2006). He signed in the Windy City with the Chicago Cubs, agreeing to a 8yr/$136 Mil contract, and ready to conquer the National League with Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.

However, the next few years were more or less defined by mediocrity for the inhabitants of Wrigley Field, despite the fact that our featured player always hit at least 20 home runs each season. Nevertheless, Soriano became an unpopular player under a franchise with a disgruntled fan base. Last year, the Cubs wanted to trade him, and the Yankees took him on a lark. To the joy of the Yankees and the chagrin of the Cubs, Soriano flourished once again in New York, reaching similar statistics in half as many games for the Yankees as he did for Chicago.

So what should the Yankees and the fans expect from Soriano now? He will be 38 years old when the 2014 season starts, but he appears to still be agile enough to play the outfield on a nightly basis. He has shown he can still scoot, too, with 18 swiped bags last season. Plus, his main asset was his power last year, as he bat cleanup fairly often last year. Historically, even players older than Soriano have been able to knock a few balls out of the park (see Ibanez, Raul). Expecting Alfonso Soriano to continue his ridiculous second half streak might be a little unreasonable, but another 20 homer season in a generous fly ball park wouldn’t be too surprising.

However, the key for Soriano is to have fun. In many games last year, he had a smile on his face. In Chicago, it seemed that the wind suppressed his joy of baseball. After all, there is a direct correlation between happiness and performance. Hopefully he enjoys his extended stay in the Big Apple.

Alfonso Soriano is a veteran. He has experience and ability. He provided a spark into a struggling lineup, and nearly propelled the Yankees into the playoffs. He put the Bombers back into the Bronx. With Mark Teixeira returning from his wrist injury and with newcomer Brian McCann playing catcher, there won’t be pressure for Soriano to ignite the offense by himself. If Derek Jeter and his legs return to full strength, then Soriano will be a cog on a very dangerous Yankee team.

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  • Jd

    I’m not buying it. While his bat speed is definitely still there @ 38, he’s not a very good outfielder & he isn’t very good against righties. Don’t get me wrong, he will still show signs of brilliance at the plate & have his moments where you can’t get him out for a series, maybe even too. But I just can’t help myself with using the comparison with ichiro.
    And if the Yankees actually think an outfield rotation of soriano, gardy, ichiro, wells & Almonte is good enough to compete, even with the McCann signing & if they resign Cano, I’m not buying it with soriano.
    With all the rumors swirling around beltran or Choo & trading for Kemp. Having 3 liabilities in the outfield with soriano, ichiro and wells, upgrades need to be made. Soriano is granderson from the right side, except granderson can still play the outfield.
    A 230 15 60 from soriano just won’t cut it. Because we will get absolutely nothing from ichiro & wells again. And as much as people like to talk up gardy, he’s always good for 2 dl stints a year & he’s probably the most streakiest hitter in baseball. And a guy with that much speed, 30 stolen bases a year is completely unacceptable from him. He should be In the 50′s, if not higher.

  • Corethree

    Yes, he will remain a dominant player, because he has finally come home. Was stupid, to say the least, to let him go anywhere in the first place.