You won’t find a Chicago Cubs fan who doesn’t hate Alfonso Soriano’s current deal. Sure, it was exciting to – for once – land the preeminent free agent on the market a few years ago, but it took little more than a few minutes for the sheen to wear off (wait, the Cubs gave him how much money? and how many years?).
But hey. Teams give out stupid contracts all the time. It’s not like Soriano’s is the worst $100 million positional player contract of all time, right?
Actually, according to Big League Stew, it is.
10. Alfonso Soriano — Chicago Cubs, eight years, $136 million (2006)
The Soriano contract is the position-player equivalent of the Barry Zito deal: hard to understand when it was signed, and simply awful now. At his absolute peak, Soriano was an exciting but deeply flawed player, possessing speed and power but indifferent defense and bad plate discipline. And the Cubs signed him for an inexplicable eight years following a career year when he was 30. Unfortunately, while speedy players are supposed to age well — as noted above — his defense and plate discipline actually appear to be eroding, and Soriano was one of the worst everyday players in the league in 2009. There are four more years on his contract. Unless he finally learns how to control the strike zone, the Cubs will regret each one of them.
Certainly nothing we didn’t already know, and in time, the Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth deal might be worse. But for now, the Soriano contract remains an albatross, hanging over the team’s budget and the team’s performance in left field. As we’ve learned over parts of the last two seasons, it’s hard to sit an $17 million player, no matter his struggles. I suspect that Mike Quade will be slightly different in this way, but even a struggling Soriano probably remains the Cubs’ best internal option in left field for the next couple years (to say nothing of the latter two years on Soriano’s deal).
He won’t perform like an $17 million player on a going forward basis, but we can hope that Soriano at least performs like an average left fielder – something that is certainly within his reach.