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Alfonso Soriano is close to returning to the New York Yankees, and Soriano flew from Phoenix to New York after the Chicago Cubs' game Thursday night in case a trade is finalized.
"I talked to my agent this afternoon, and he told me we have to wait," Soriano said. "He called me again [during the game] and said it is 90-99 percent, 'So if you want to go to New York, you can go.' Otherwise I would have to wait for tomorrow morning."
The Cubs scratched Soriano from the lineup against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday because a deal was close, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. The Cubs lost 3-1.
"I took him out of the lineup and put [Nate] Schierholtz in," said Sveum, who said the deal is "99 percent done." "[Cubs president of baseball operations] Theo [Epstein] called and said [the trade] is pretty close to being done, so just better off not playing him."
Epstein boarded a plane back to Chicago after talking to Sveum on Thursday night. The Cubs' top executive had a conversation with Soriano on Tuesday night and asked the player whether he would waive his no-trade clause to return to the Yankees. The Cubs are still waiting for the formal waiver from Soriano.
Sveum said the Cubs said goodbye to their veteran leader in a group send-off after the game.
"After the game we got everybody together to say our goodbyes," Sveum said. "It was emotional for all of us. You don't usually gather teams together that often when people get traded to say your goodbyes. That just shows you the kind of person he is."
Soriano expressed mixed emotions.
"I am happy, and I think [the Cubs] are happy, too, because they are going to get something back. I am happy going back to New York, where I started my career. I think both ways [people] are happy," he said.
"There is a difficult part of this. I know all these guys and have played with them for a while. This is a little uncomfortable, but this is baseball; sometimes you have to do what is best for the team, for me and the other organization, too. I have been traded before, so I have to keep moving and do my job in New York."
Of the estimated $24.5 million Soriano is owed through the end of next season, the Cubs are going to pick up about $17.7 million and the Yankees will cover the remaining $6.8 million, sources told ESPN's Buster Olney. Soriano is scheduled to make $18 million next season, $5 million of which will be paid by the Yankees, the sources said.
The Cubs also would get a lower-tier pitching prospect in the trade, sources said.
In any trade in which more than a million dollars changes hands, the money exchange must be signed off on by MLB commissioner Bud Selig.
MLB also must receive documentation of Soriano having signed off on his 10-5 veto rights on any proposed trade. Those rights are given to vested major league players who have played 10 full seasons in the major leagues and five consecutive years with their present club.
Information from ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine was used in this report.