Jun 18, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees batter Alfonso Soriano breaks his bat in the 3rd inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
On Monday, Will Green reported at SI.com that the New York Yankees had released seven-time All-Star outfielder Alfonso Soriano a little more than a week after they had designated him for assignment. Soriano may be on the very backside of his career, and he has definitely had his problems, but the Cincinnati Reds and general manager Walt Jocketty should swoop in to grab Soriano off the baseball scrapheap before some other contender does the same.
The Reds have struggled with offensive production in leftfield all season, and now face injury-induced holes at first base (Joey Votto) and second base (Brandon Phillips), as well. While Soriano has not played second in the Major Leagues since 2009, he has logged a lot of time in left over the last few seasons, including 48 games for the Yankees last year. Those appearances came after his acquisition as a stretch-run bolster, and in the midst of a 17-home run, 50-RBI second half that left him at 34/101 on the season to go along with 18 stolen bases and a 113 OPS+ that was right in line with his career line.
Given that Soriano is now 38 and struck out 71 times versus just six walks for the Yanks in 2014, it’s possible that he is finished, but it seems more likely to me that the whole pot soured in New York in the face of withering pressures and underperformance by the team as a whole. Given one more fresh start with a contending team, it’s likely Soriano could contribute off the bench and as a spot starter.
Since the Yankees released him outright, they are on the hook for the remainder of his hefty salary, and other teams are free to sign him at the Major League minimum. For a Reds team that has trouble scoring runs and yet finds itself within whispering distance of first place at the All-Star break, that would be a gamble worth taking.