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A day after finalizing a deal that unloaded Carlos Zambrano on the Miami Marlins, the Cubs appear to be hard at work unloading another problematic player, Alfonso Soriano.

The “problem” with the outfielder, mind you, is totally different than that with Zambrano. Soriano, who turns 36 tomorrow, is a hard worker and a well-liked teammate. The “problem” is that he’s also owed $18 million over the next three years, and his legs have left him. Although he still has some life left in his bat, playing regularly in left field is not something Soriano can do well anymore. And doing so is probably sapping some of that life from his bat.

So, it’s unsurprising that the Cubs have been aggressively shopping Soriano for some time now, on the understanding that the Cubs would eat enough of his contract to make a deal palatable for some AL team, who could DH Soriano for the next few years.

Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs have spoken to at least eight AL teams about Soriano, with the Mariners and O’s mentioned specifically. The most Levine expects the Cubs to save by dealing Soriano is $5 million per year, with the Cubs eating the remaining $39 million. Even in that case, I wouldn’t expect the return on such a deal to be anything worth getting excited about.

Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein certainly didn’t rule out a trade of Soriano when he was discussing the Zambrano trade yesterday. Indeed, Epstein came off like a guy selling Soriano to the whole of the AL.

“[Soriano] hit 26 home runs and drove in 88 runs last year,” Epstein said. “He’s a valuable offensive player, so it’s our responsibility as an organization to work with him and to get the best out of him. At some point in the future, if there’s a transaction that makes sense with any of our players that puts the Cubs in a better position moving forward, we are going to pursue it. But in respect to Alfonso, he has power and is an offensive contributor. We can work with him to get the best out of him and see where that takes us.”

Sounds like the kinds of things Epstein said about Zambrano … and Sean Marshall.

The team whose name keeps popping up is the Baltimore Orioles, with a report out of Baltimore claiming the Cubs and O’s have discussed a Soriano deal. Phil Rogers suggests something similar, and even mentions Brian Roberts (oh no, not that again) by name, though it seems like he’s speculating.

The Boston Red Sox, who have discussed Marlon Byrd with the Cubs, are not interested in Soriano says Nick Cafardo, which is unsurprising.

Soriano, you’ll note, has a no-trade clause, though he’s previously indicated he would waive it if the Cubs asked. Perhaps the rebuilding nature of the team will inspire him to hold to that.

  • King Jeff

    “Phil Rogers suggests something similar, and even mentions Brian Roberts”

    The ghost of Hendry just will not go away, will it?

    • jayandersonjr81

      Hendry was a horrible GM and did at the end what his bosses told him too. He had more success then another GM we had. It was his time to go, but still should bash him. It seems to me that Epstein is threatened by having “Hendry’s” guys in the locker room, so he dumping them for no return.

      • jayandersonjr81

        I meant Hendry WASN’T a horrible GM.

        • ferrets_bueller

          Well, thats your first mistake! We’ve found the root of the problem.  You definitely had it right the first time.

        • gratefulled

          I would like to know your definition of a GOOD GM please, and then stop posting any further comments.

      • realist

        Yeah right. Epstein is threatened by players Hendry acquired. No way. He threatened by how bad so many of the players left to him really are. Stop being a dopey Cub fan.

  • JulioZuleta

    If we move Soto and Byrd, it’s possible that we could have 1 returning position starter from last year.

  • Brian Myers

    The bigger problem is that we have essentially nobody to replace his production if he gets moved. LaHair maybe, perhaps someone else will come through with a “miracle” season. But really, nobody else at the moment.

    If he gets moved I hope there is still some reasonable talent left in the free agent market to bring in a bat with a bit of power.

    • King Jeff

      I’m not sure hitting .250 with 25 homeruns would count as a miracle season.

      • Brian Myers

        The .250? I agree, that’s easy The 25 HR’s? With our current group of guys on the roster, yes, it might take a miracle to duplicate that power.

        The only guy left on the roster that even hit double digit HR’s last year is Soto.

        That leaves LaHair and maybe Ian Stewart if he stays healthy. So “miracle” might be a bit strong, but if we get rid of Soriano the top 3 RBI and HR guys from our lineup last year will all be gone. Replacing that productivity with what we currently have isn’t going to happen. So I suspect we’ll make a couple more moves soon with the perhaps 20-30 million we have left for roster moves.

      • EQ76

        if we trade Soriano, we’ll have virtually zero power..

        • Brian Myers

          Yep, the current club, as it stands now (without Soriano and not knowing who we would get in return) would likely hit between 90 (on the low end) and 110 HR’s (on the high end). That’s right around the bottom 5 in the league.

  • Mike

    Why wouldn’t more AL teams with a DH spot available want to take a crack at Soriano? If I was an AL teams’ GM, I would look at the fact that Soriano would be able to concentrate on hitting and not playing OF. His numbers were good last year and will probably get better with a move to the AL. To top it off, you would get him at a below average $5M a year and maybe a prospect. The other FA DHs out there might not be as good or if they are, they will cost more.

    • Brian Myers

      Mostly, it’s because 36 guys hit at least 20 hr’s in the AL last year. It means Sori would be an upgrade, but likely not a huge upgrade on most teams. So the talent they’ll give up will likely be less than Soriano unless they are trying to move a problem player or just doing a salary dump.

      Edit: In short, other teams may want to make a move, but it won’t be an aggressive one. The Cubs will need to sort out the best deal for their organization.

  • JB88

    Why in the world would the Cubs under Theo/Hoyer be interested in touching Roberts with a ten-foot pole?

  • DRock

    Git ‘er done, Theo!

  • JR1908

    Uh Oh Brett… You used Phil Rogers name in a report again… Do you think he will get on here as Big Joe and rip you again? Maybe..

  • JR1908

    I hope your right about the Cubs getting someone to pay 5 mill a yr. on Soriano.. That would be amazing!!

  • Ajbearsfan

    Well we are probably in for a long season. But at least there is potential in the future(the near kind) that we will indeed be winning. With the possibility of loosing soriano go cash and more than likely trading garza I have to ask why now? Why not play them and trade them mid season after garza puts up good numbers and soriano the same? Wouldn’t that make their trade value more?

  • KidCubbie

    Hey Brett. Just saw that Bleacher Nation was mentioned on MLBTR for your article on Volstad. Just wanted to say great job. As an active duty military member and a huge fan of BN its nice to see ur site doing so well. It’s also great to be able to keep track of the latest Cubs news from u. Keep up the great work man. And here’s hoping that Theo can pull off another good trade for Soriano.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thank you, and THANK YOU.

      • KidCubbie

        *salute*

  • kinhin

    I really hope Soriano is moved! I doubt will be able to find a replacement that would have the same production though so I could see Dave Sappelt in at LF for the year.

  • CF

    I know I’m probably in the minority here, but I’d rather the Cubs keep Soriano than pay $40M for him to play for someone else. He’s not a zero as some suggest. He just shouldn’t be batting #3 and playing everyday. Play him 75% of the time and sit him against tough RHP and I think he’s a pretty useful piece.

    1) I don’t think it’s out of the question that he could have a bounceback season and generate 2.5-3 WAR. He put up 3 WAR just one year ago. His BABIP was down significantly (40 pts) last year, which could certainly rebound.
    2) He’s a good teammate and a big name for casual fans. Castro, a fellow Dominican, probably would benefit from Soriano being around.
    3) The Cubs don’t have anyone better to put in LF and won’t find anyone at this stage of free agency.

    • Mike

      I strongly disagree with most of that statement CF…

      I do agree and think Soriano is a good teammate but his defense (except for a decent arm) is a “C” at best. His offense is “C+” at best (lots of K’s) and I would rather get some experience for younger players at this stage for the 2012 Cubs season.

      I competely understand the contract he got, when he got it. His numbers were comparable to a Ryan Braun with less AVG. But, now he can’t run, play DEF, hit over .250, and barely scratches 20hrs. a year. And that is all if he stays healthy.

      Cutting his playing time would make his numbers even worse. Send him to the AL where he may have a better year concentrating on hitting and being able to play everyday. It is just too bad we can’t get more than $5M and a prospect or so.

    • Skinner

      The assumption here is that the 3 WAR Soriano is the real Soriano, while the 1.3 WAR and 0.0 WAR (2009) is not.

      Going forward, given his age (36), it’s a far better bet he’ll be the 1.3 guy (or worse) not the 3.

    • art

      LOL, sorry

    • FromFenwayPahk

      CF, Can you replace that projected WAR with the the projected 4-5 million you save? If you can, then it is an even trade for 2012. If you can scrounge up better, or lock up future-better for longer, then you are way up in the trade. IF this player is moved it’ll be because you’ve replaced his mathematical impact on Wins in ’12, or the team is improved in the long run (or, interestingly, you might craft a hybrid of the two).

      IMO Theo doesn’t care about getting “a big name for casual fans.” Big Names are built inside good organizations, and often they can be built cheaply (Ellsbury, Pedroia, et al). You can buy one. But I don’t need to tell you that sometimes that’s all you get.

  • jayandersonjr81

    I couldn’t agree more. Same reason I would have kept Zambrano.

  • http://bleachernation.com Butch reitzel

    Soriano may invoke his “no trade” clause and force our hand. If we release him, he can sign with whomever HE wants. I think any way you look at it, he will not be a part of this team next season. And even if his replacement falls short of Soriano’s offensive numbers, the cubs could save many runs defensively.

  • Marla Collins Fan Club

    I think the time to trade Soriano is Now ! Especially with Zambrano now gone and the fact it looks as if we are not going to sign any big time free agents this year or trade for any big contracts. We might as well spend it all on getting rid of these bad contracts this year. I for one am all in for this approach.

  • Rochester Cubs Fan

    Adios Alfonso! Can we help you pack your bags. It’s time to move forward without the dead weight.

  • Hrubes20

    I don’t think anybody would pay $5 million a year for Soriano. I think $3 million a year is even optimistic.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think $5 million is the absolute top.

      • JulioZuleta

        I could see 5. He hit 26 and 88 last year. I think that he could definitely match that, especially without having to play the field. That’s pretty easily worth $5 mil. If he were a FA, I could see him getting 2 years 13 mil or something in that ball park. But, since the Cubs hands are tied, they get fair value for it.

  • CubsfaninKY

    If Theo can get a team to give 5 million a year of salary relief for Soriano, we should throw a party in the streets. I don’t see a team paying that much but hey we can all hope.

    • ferrets_bueller

      He would immediately supplant Anthopolous as the biggest miracle worker in baseball- moving not just Zambrano, but Soriano as well?  That alone would make him a Chicago legend, before the Cubs have even played a single game.

  • JulioZuleta

    MLBTR says Cubs are getting close with Kerry Wood. They’ll have to trade or DFA someone to make room for him.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t really see why they wouldn’t just wait until after “other moves” shake out, which might open up a 40-man spot organically.

      • JulioZuleta

        The only thing I can think is that it would be a big PR move in the eyes of the casual fan leading up to the convention. I don’t really see that as something that would motivate Theo though. Maybe there on the verge of a trade as we speak, and Kerry’s will be done as soon as Garza/Byrd/Soriano get dealt.

      • kubphan82

        Or they know they can sign Wood now knowing they’re not receiving MLB ready player for the 40-man in a Soriano trade… Or are ready to remove Cabrera in light of a Soriano deal…

        Another note: If the Cubs eat $40million (just choosing a rumored number) of Soriano’s contract, doesn’t that money count against this season’s payroll as the payment must be received within a specific timeline?

        • JulioZuleta

          The 40 man is at 40 now, so we would have to make that trade before signing Wood. And yes, it would count against the payroll, but since there isn’t a salary cap or anything, and we aren’t going to hit the luxury tax either way, it doesn’t have any effect on anything (outside of a wasted 13 mil a year).

          • kubphan82

            I suppose my point is that it frees up major money going forward, while Ricketts mentioned the payroll would remain about the same, meaning not much in lieu of FA signings with any money associated would be brought in the rest of the offseason.

  • Matt M

    I agree with trying to move these guys. I understand a need for experience. The problem is as fans we become close to players and have a tough time letting them go. But the truth is tjese guys did not get the job done. We did not win with them. For a while I was worried. Are we going to have the same roster as last year? Thankfully it looks like we afe making some moves. Keep the faith!

  • rcleven

    It’s not my money but I’m having a hard time putting my head around 30mm being paid out for our ex players to play for other teams. Lousy contracts work as a double edge sward. Agreed his defensive ability’s have never been acceptable at any position he has played in his career.If the idea is to upgrade the defense, plan to keep him on the bench.If not acceptable to him let his agent find a new home at better terms to the Cubs.

  • Teri

    Clearing out Soriano is a must. If we are going in a new direction, get rid of that lazy, terrible outfielder and start with someone who can run without two broken legs. Soriano should have been paying the Cubs to play him the past few years. What a complete waste of money he was. Never did one thing they got him for: no stealing bases, no defense, no hustle. Just a lot of 1 run home runs and whiffs at balls in the dirt and 3 feet off the plate…YIKES!!

  • rbreeze

    Maybe Kerry Wood told them, I’m not signing until you get rid of Mr. Z.  But as fans we get so close to these players and in some cases emotionally so in some cases that you can’t picture them going somewhere else.  How would you like to be a Cardinals fan and lose maybe the best player on the planet (Pujols)?  When Z was traded I was fine with it but for the first day I couldn’t picture him anywhere else. It felt funny.

    We coddle our guys so much sometimes but now an outsider like Theo comes along and he has no emotional bagage with any of these guys.  He is looking at performance now and into the future.  He balances the numbers both in on the field stats and money to be spent and makes the call hopefully for the better more times than not.   So we trade Zambrano and $15 mil for a younger, warm body.  We are out $18 mil no matter what.  Zambrano gets paid and is off the roster and the new guy gets paid and we are still out $18 mil.  You have to do it.  Soriano may be a good guy but he will meet that same fate.  Its not about putting up with whatever Soriano can or can’t do on the field for the next 3 years.  Its about moving him somewhere else.  He gets paid and his replacement gets paid and we still pay out the total monies owed Alfonso.   And we get to see maybe a Brett Jackson or someone else get an opportunity to show us what they can do.

  • Deez

    You know?
    I get tired of people mentioning that players have “no trade clauses” in their contracts!
    Once they become 10/5 guys they automatically have right of 1st refusal. The no trade clause only protects them for 4yrs & 364 days if they have 10 years of MLB service.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah. But Soriano has a NTC. He also has 10/5 rights. I know what you’re saying.

  • MrCub73

    The Orioles seem to be the team with the most chatter around Soriano at the moment. I could see this being the landing spot with a guy like Matusz as a target coming back to the Cubs. A mid 20’s left hander with unfulfilled potential and another potential change of scenery candidate.

    • realist

      That’s it exactly.

  • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

    wasnt there some luke guy that we were interested in? cant remember the first name, i think he was a 3rd base man. dont remember… anyone remember this guy? he was in baltimore last year.

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      Luke Scott? 1B / OF / DH, and probably best at DH. He was considered a fall back option for the Cubs at first, but that was about it.

      • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

        thats the guy. wasnt he relativly cheap and have a decent stat line? is he still in baltimre or is he a free agent?

  • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

    i believe he is a FA though, and may have already signed elsewhere.

    • realist

      I think he’s still out there, but I doubt the Cubs would have interest in him. He kinda stinks.

  • DaveB23

    If we could save $5 million per year on Soriano’s contract I would be ECSTATIC.
    It seems that in the past it was being reported that the best case scenario would be saving $2-3 million per year, if some team ups that to 5 Theo should take it and run, regardless of whatever prospect/player we may get back

  • jim

    Soriano (sorry-ano) needs to go bye-bye!
    He strikes out too much & many times
    he strikes out in the 9th inning to kill
    any chance the CUBS have of winning.
    He is somewhat like a Manny Ramirez
    in the outfield defensively. I know, they say he is
    a “nice” guy, but this isn’t a personality contest,
    its MLB & us CUBS fans want & need a change!
    Also, Rizzo, La hair, & Pena are All 1st basemen.
    What’s up with that? Somethings cooking & we shall
    all find out soon! Prince Fielder: going to the Nationals?
    GO CUBS!

  • realist

    It’s shocking to see how many fans, and if you’re posting on a blog, you must be at least a semi-serious fan I would think, are stuck in the old Cub thinking ways. When I heard that Hendry signed Soriano, I was like, ok, he just had a great year, then I heard the terms of the contract & I was like, oh my god! No one else was going to offer a contract like that. It was just stupid. The Epstein team are running The Cubs now and the fans are just going to have to get over the ideas of the past. They obviously didn’t work. I just can’t imagine fans of a team would want their team floating aimlessly in the also ran direction that Cubs have been stuck in for so long. Hendry wasn’t the worst, but his days were and now are thankfully over.

    • BetterNews

      Nice post.

    • Jeff L

      Realist let me ask you… Did those ideas work for the Yankees??? Do you think they will work for the Angels??? Did paying top dollars for free agents work for the Red Sox with Epstein as GM. I agree with you that the Soriano contract was too large. I also think the Pujols contract is way to long. But, you pay these guys really for the top part of their contract. Soriano did help us make 2 straight playoff appearances. That’s something the Cubs just don’t do. Like I said before you need to have an owner that is willing to pay more for their mistake. Sad to say but we are stuck with Ricketts.

      • Trent

        Sorry but that made no sense to me…I understand that you have to bring in FAs at some point to help you win but you also have to build a core and a farm system to stay competitive for a long time. When you have that core of young prospects to build around (ie. Pedroia, Elsburry, Papelbon, etc.) then you can go spend some money to fill holes where you have needs that are not fillable with the prospects you have at the specific time. In the Cubs case spending ridiculous money every offseason on FAs that already are 30+ years old ran this team into the ground. All of the teams that compete in the Majors today, yes even the Yankees, have good farm systems. It’s all about depth with more depth in your farm you have better odds of pulling All-Stars and more bait in trades to make your team better.

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