The Red Sox might not be able to trade Lester, or the the prospects they get for Lester may not turn into valuable players in the future, but the willingness of the Red Sox to shop Lester demonstrates why the Red Sox are one of the smartest organizations in baseball. It also presents a stark contrast between the Red Sox and their top rival the New York Yankees. In recent years, the Yankees have never accepted that they are out of contention or decided to trade a player approaching free agency. This has contributed to a cycle that demands the Yankees sign increasingly expensive and old free agents to field a team that is unlikely to play deep into the playoffs.
The first few weeks of the season saw one unexpected and one expected event occur for the Yankees. The unexpected event is that all three veteran outfielders, particularly Suzuki and Beltran were hitting. The expected event was that the increasingly brittle Teixeira missed a bit of time due to an injury. Additional injuries forced the Yankees to start Francisco Cervelli, a light hitting backup catcher at first base, twice. Cervelli himself got hurt and Beltran filled in ably for part of a game. Fortunately for the Yankees, Kelly Johnson, an off-season pickup expected to play mostly at third base has been hitting well and playing fine at first base.
The toughest question facing the Yankees may be what they will do if Rodriguez comes back and plays well. While Rodriguez is a shadow of the player he was from 1996-2007, and is older, injury prone and overpaid, he is still a valuable player when he is on the field. Last year he managed to post an OPS+ of 113 while having a WAR of 2.3, batting .272 with 18 home runs in only 122 games. These are not great numbers, but they are useful, particularly for a team this is desperate both for a third baseman and a right-handed power hitter.
Soriano is winding down a career that will feel much more impressive in retrospect than it did at the time. Soriano was never quite the superstar some thought he would become because his game had too many holes and too many things at which he was not quite good enough, but when the incongruity between his tools and appearance on one hand, and his numbers and skills on the other, fade into the past, he will be more likely to be remembered as the very good player he has been.