For most fans of the New York Yankees, they have great memories of Alfonso Soriano in pinstripes. The home run that almost propelled the Bombers to a fourth straight World Series championship in 2001, coming just short of putting up a 40-40 season, his hot bat upon his return to the Bronx last summer, and of course, being the centerpiece of what became the Alex Rodriguez trade back in 2004. The Yankees welcomed him back with open arms for some much-needed power when they reacquired him from the Chicago Cubs. Soriano is due $18 million dollars this season, but the Cubs were kind enough to pick up all but $5 million of it, which the Yankees will cover.
This season is the final year of Soriano’s current deal, and with the talented players around him now manning the outfield in Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Brett Gardner, Soriano is most likely going to be the primary designated hitter for the Bombers in 2014, and should get the occasional start in one of the two corner outfield spots. Soriano has hinted that depending on how his body feels at the end of the season, he could follow Derek Jeter into the sunset and call it a career at the end of this contract. “If I am healthy I will play [in 2015]. If not, I will let it go. It depends how I feel.’’ If Soriano were to continue playing for a couple more seasons, and continued to perform at the level he has grown accustomed to, he has an outside chance at 500 home runs. While it seems like every power hitter who sticks around long enough gets to the once-cherished and respected milestone, at least we have a pretty good idea that Soriano actually hit his bombs as a clean player.
The 38-year-old has hit over 30 home runs and driven in 100 or more runs in each of the past two seasons. What’s even more impressive, is that Soriano’s splits between the Cubs, and then after the trade back to the Yankees were almost identical, aside from the fact that Soriano did his damage in pinstripes in 35 less games. In Chicago, Soriano hit .254 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI. Upon his return to the Bronx, he hit .256 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI. That is consistency.
Soriano readily admits that if he is the primary DH for the Yankees this season, he is going to have to make some adjustments to not being an every day defender: “If I am the DH I will have to make adjustments…When the team is playing defense I will have to find a way to keep my body warm and ready.” For once, it is a plethora of riches for the Yankees to have so many productive outfielders, where some of the other spots on the roster aren’t nearly as plentiful. If 2014 is the final run for Alfonso Soriano, he has provided some memorable moments in his brief Yankees career, which could be topped off with more come this October.