It’s going to be a busy day, I think…
When the Chicago Cubs hinted to teams two weeks ago that anyone on the roster could be had for the right price, the sexiest part of the discussion that followed centered on guys like Matt Garza, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto, and Carlos Marmol, for obvious reasons. They were highly valuable pieces who could help the Cubs in 2012, and the trade of whom would raise a few eyebrows with respect to the Cubs’ plans for being competitive in the near term (mine would not be one of those eyebrows, mind you, but I wouldn’t look down on anyone whose eyebrow flinched a little).
Nobody talked about Alfonso Soriano.
Why? Well, like, because everyone knows he’s available. He’s the chipped table upon which you place the valuable yard sale items. Sure, it doesn’t have a $3 sticker on it like the dust buster, but everyone knows it could be had for the right price – the “right price” being a flatbed upon which it could be hauled away.
I’m, of course, being hyperbolic, but, suffice it to say, the Cubs would gladly move Soriano in the right deal. And, what do you know, there is actual interest.
A Major League source tells Ken Rosenthal that teams (plural!) are “kicking the tires” on Alfonso Soriano. Presumably, those teams are all in the American League, where Soriano could fulfill the three years remaining on his contract as a DH.
Soriano’s contract – three years remaining and $54 million – precludes any kind of straight-up trade, but if the Cubs were willing to eat upwards of $40 million (and GM Jed Hoyer has confirmed he has the authority to dump contracts on that kind of scale if it would help the team), I can’t help but believe they’d find takers. Soriano was down considerably in 2011 – .244/.289/.469 – but he was still a slightly better than average hitter (104 OPS+). And, when he wasn’t battling leg issues, Soriano has been at a 114 OPS+ or better in every season since 2006 (again, excepting his 2009, injury-rattled season).
Consider how those numbers might look if he were focusing solely on hitting? Surely he could be modestly attractive as a cheap DH option for a team looking to devote its resources in other areas.
There are two additional hurdles, however, to dealing Soriano, in addition to the mammoth contract and the declining performance: he turns 36 in January, and he’s got a no-trade clause. The former issue is not one the Cubs can remedy. But, fortunately, Soriano has indicated in recent months that, if the Cubs wanted to trade him, he would waive his no-trade clause. Of course, players frequently say that until an actual deal to, say, the Orioles is on the table. Then, they weigh their options.
Regardless, the fact that teams are remotely interested is good news for the Cubs, who are hoping to open up an outfield spot for top prospect Brett Jackson and a potential trade/free agent acquisition to improve the overall defense in the outfield (a David DeJesus type, for example). As long as the Cubs’ sights aren’t set too high – settle for some salary relief and a fringy prospect and call it a day – it’s possible something could get done.