ARLINGTON, Texas - In desperate need of some punch for their floundering offense, the Yankees have had continued discussions with the Cubs about bringing Alfonso Soriano back to the Bronx.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer arrived in Arizona yesterday to discuss trade possibilities with Soriano. He has veto power over any deal but is believed to be amenable to returning to the Yankees, with whom his career started in 1999.
But as of Tuesday night, nothing official was in place.
"We've had some discussions with some different teams about Sori, nothing close at all,'' Hoyer said on MLB Network Radio. "That's not nearly as advanced as those reports make it seem.''
If the clubs are able to work something out, the Cubs, who are in Arizona playing 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 midlevel prospect in exchange, although giving up a more significant player can't be ruled out.
Soriano, a 37-year-old righthanded hitter, was a Yankee from 1999-2003 before being dealt to the Rangers as part of the Alex Rodriguez trade in 2004. He is hitting .256 with a .286 OBP, 17 home runs and 51 RBIs in 92 games this season.
Soriano has 389 homers and a .272 average in 15 seasons. His eighth-inning solo homer off Curt Schilling in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead before the Diamondbacks rallied against Mariano Rivera to win it in the ninth.
The Yankees previously discussed bringing back Soriano. Should the trade occur, he would take over in leftfield, which would relegate Vernon Wells to the role of a backup and occasional designated hitter.
Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Rivera were teammates of Soriano's with the Yankees. Jeter wouldn't comment on the possibility of a reunion, but he did speak in general terms about the outfielder, whom he described as "a good friend.''
"He had a lot of power, stole a lot of bases. Sori did a lot when he was here,'' Jeter said. "He was pretty exciting. Came within one home run of 40-40, right? I remember all of us pulling for him the last week [in 2002], which I'm sure probably cost him doing it because he might have been trying to do it. But those are things not too many people do.''
Soriano vetoed a trade proposal last season that would have sent him to the Giants, but the belief is he would OK a return to New York.
"We're heading out to Arizona,'' Hoyer said. "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.''