ARLINGTON, Texas -- On a day with new Alex Rodriguez developments, indications were the Yankees were close to bringing back the centerpiece in A-Rod's acquisition in 2004.
A deal for Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, part of the trade with the Rangers that brought Rodriguez to the Yankees, was considered imminent.
Soriano was not in the starting lineup for Thursday night's game in Arizona, and according to multiple Chicago news organizations covering the series, Cubs president Theo Epstein asked manager Dale Sveum to remove him from the lineup as a deal with the Yankees was nearly done. Before the game, Sveum told reporters the trade was "99 percent done.''
"Theo called and said it was pretty close to being done,'' Sveum said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "So we're better off not playing him.'' Still, there was no announcement Thursday night, and a source familiar with the Yankees' thinking said nothing official was in place.
Soriano has veto power over any trade, the reason Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer flew to Arizona Tuesday. The Chicago Tribune said Soriano gave the OK to be traded yesterday morning.
The deal likely would require the approval of the commissioner's office, and the Yankees were expected to surrender a mid-level prospect in return. It was anticipated that the Cubs would eat a sizable portion of the money left on Soriano's contract, which includes $18 million next year.
The righthanded-hitting Soriano, 37, doesn't have eye-popping numbers, but his 17 homers immediately would rank him second on the Yankees, who entered Thursday ranked 12th in the American League in runs (393), 14th in homers (88), 13th in OBP (.306) and 15th in slugging (.371). They have not homered in their last seven games.
The intent is to have Soriano take over in leftfield. That would put Vernon Wells in the role of a backup and occasional DH.