Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has been with the Cubs for what seems like ages. In truth, he came just four and a half years ago, but the painful and persistent erosion of his skills has made time move as slowly as Soriano trotting toward a ball skipping to the ivy.
Imagine how it will feel in 2014.
Fortunately, says Dave Kaplan, we won’t have to worry about that. He’s heard that, even if the Cubs don’t pull off a miracle and find a taker for Soriano this week (or in August), he’ll not be back with the Cubs in 2012.
The report today also talked about the Cubs new found willingness to eat significant money to facilitate a trade but several baseball executives I spoke with told me that has been the Cubs position for quite a while. In addition, sources that I spoke with indicated to me that the chances of Soriano returning to the Cubs in 2012 are very slim because of his declining skills. The same source told me that the Ricketts family has been very active in compiling information behind the scenes and are far more aware of what needs to be done than people realize.
If that’s true, best not tell anyone else, lest the Cubs be forced to eat all of his remaining salary to release him, rather than at least save a couple million bucks each year by dealing him to an AL team for whom he can DH. For all of our gripes about Soriano – and they are both ample and legitimate – he can still hit well enough to play in the bigs. And if he didn’t have to play in the field every day, accelerating the decline in the health of his legs, he might hit even better.
Surely there’s an AL team out there who would take Soriano for a few million bucks per year. And that’s correlative to the amount Kaplan says he’s heard the Cubs will eat, by the way – as much as $15 million per season of the $18 million per season Soriano is owed over the next three season.
How the Ricketts family will consider Soriano’s salary into the budget, however, remains to be seen. Imagine that the team is given a payroll budget of $130 million in 2012. The Cubs have successfully dumped Soriano, but have agreed to pay $15 million of his salary for 2012. Does that mean the budget drops to $115 million? Or, will the Ricketts consider Soriano’s salary off the books – a one-time charge in the parlance of Ricketts’ other life – and leave a full $130 million available to be spent anew?
Teams vary in their approach, but, until we know which way the Ricketts will swing, it’s probably unwise to get excited at the prospect of “being rid of Soriano’s salary.” Besides – being excited about the prospect of having someone new patrolling left field, someone with upside, perhaps, should excite you enough.