ARLINGTON, Texas -- In desperate need of some punch for their floundering offense, the Yankees are in talks with the Cubs to bring Alfonso Soriano back to the Bronx, according to a source.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer flew to Arizona Tuesday morning to discuss trade possibilities with Soriano, who has veto power over any deal but is believed to be amenable to a return to the Yankees, with whom his career started in 1999.
"If you're referring to that Soriano rumor, that's very premature," Hoyer said on MLB Network Radio. "We've had some discussions with some different teams about Sori, nothing close at all. ? That's not nearly as advanced as those reports make it seem."
If the clubs are able to work something out, still a strong likelihood, the Cubs, who are in Arizona for a series against the Diamondbacks, are expected to eat a good deal of the money left on Soriano's contract, which includes $18 million next year. The Yankees are likely to surrender a mid-level prospect in exchange, though a player of more significance being involved can't be ruled out.
The 37-year-old, right-handed hitting Soriano doesn't have off-the-chart numbers, but his 17 homers would immediately rank him second on the mostly powerless Yankees, who rank 12th in the AL in runs (387), 13th in homers (88), 13th in OBP (.308) and 14th in slugging (.373). They have not had an extra-base hit in their last 20 innings, which includes a 3-0 shutout at the hands of the Rangers Monday night.
The intent, should the trade occur, would be for Soriano, whom the Yankees have discussed before about bringing back, to take over in left field. That would put Vernon Wells in the role of a backup and occasional designated hitter.
Soriano, a Yankee from 1999-2003 before being dealt to Texas as part of the Alex Rodriguez trade in 2004, is hitting .256 with a .286 OBP, 17 homers and 51 RBIs in 92 games this season.
The outfielder vetoed a trade proposal last season that would have sent him to the Giants.
"Last year, we sort of took things to (Soriano) on an individual basis, when teams asked about him," Hoyer said. "This year, I'm in an airport right now. We're heading out to Arizona. We'll probably sit down with Sori. We've been in touch with (his agent) about his thoughts. He's got 10-5, he has the right and earned the right to veto deals. We won't push in any direction, but we'll certainly give him some of the teams that have inquired about him and let him make that decision himself."