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Without a doubt, the name you’ll hear the most in trade rumors this month – for the Chicago Cubs, anyway – is Alfonso Soriano. As a right-handed power bat, enjoying his best season in years at the plate and in the field, Soriano has quite a bit of value.

That is to say, if you could completely ignore his contract, which pays him $18 million per year through 2014. Fortunately for the Cubs, that contract is the very reason they’ll be able to trade him this month, because he’ll easily clear waivers. Unfortunately for the Cubs, teams have trouble separating the value Soriano would have as a member of a club in a pennant race, and the extreme lack of value in his contract.

“When guys sign really big contracts and then they go through a year or two when they may not perform at a peak level, I think players get labeled because of their contracts as ‘undesirable,’” President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein told reporters, according to the Tribune. “[Soriano has] always has been a great teammate here and he has been a very productive player this year, he really has improved his defense and has been very productive with the bat.

“It’s hard to step back and evaluate the player independent of his contract. Sometimes teams fall into dismissing a player because of his contract. Certainly he’s helping us and he could help other teams. I’m sure he’ll clear waivers and see if something else materializes. But we’re certainly happy to have him here.”

Of course, the Cubs will be willing to eat some of that contract if they can get prospect value back in return, and, indeed, they had preliminary discussions with a handful of teams before the trade deadline about doing just that.

Soriano has admitted that the Cubs had spoken to him before the deadline to get a sense of what teams he would be willing to consider in trade. In general, he prefers non-West Coast teams (to be closer to his family), and prefers teams that look to be competitive not only this year, but the next two years. Presumably, the non-West Coast thing is why Soriano rejected a would-be trade to the San Francisco Giants, as confirmed by Gordon Wittenmyer.

But Soriano did approve a prospective deal to one West Coast team: the Dodgers. That was back when the Cubs were scrambling to make something worth with the Dodgers in a Ryan Dempster deal, and they thought including Soriano might make it work. Those discussions apparently got very close to a deal (remember when Brett Jackson was mysteriously pulled on July 30? Soriano’s agent was calling him at the same time to alert him that a deal was “very close”), but ultimately, the two sides couldn’t make it work.

From here, the Cubs obviously won’t say publicly that they want to trade Soriano, but it’s not hard to read between the lines in the Epstein quote above, and the following, from GM Jed Hoyer.

“I suppose there is a chance in August, but he handled things so well,” Hoyer said Wednesday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “He was great with us. He’s having a great year, some teams were interested. He told us to bring some teams to him if there was a possibility. We did that well in advance. He told us certain places that he was interested in, certain places he wasn’t. I thought the way he handled it was really great ….

“We could move him potentially in August. He’s had a great year and done everything this coaching staff has asked, and we really appreciate the way he has handled not only the season but the way he handled this trade deadline.”

It’s fair to expect that we’ll be hearing plenty about Soriano this month.

(And, yes, I do see how you could read Hoyer’s quotes about Soriano and the deadline as a shot at Ryan Dempster, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s just as possible that, since Soriano is still with the Cubs, Hoyer doesn’t want fans blasting him for rejecting a trade to the Giants …)

  • SouthernCub

    I say Detroit is a real possibility in August…..say 65% chance, sending 24 mil over to Detroit will definitely help matters.

  • calicubsfan007

    I would imagine the Cubs would probably get a better deal with Sori in the offseason. Besides, he wouldn’t be as expensive by then.

    • Drew7

      I don’t know, I’d imagine his value has about peaked. Time to go, Sori.

      • calicubsfan007

        @Drew7: I think the Cubs might be able to trade him better in this offseason than in August because the Cubs can regain leverage that they somewhat lost during the “d” fiasco. I think the Cubs could get more by making it clear that we don’t have to trade him and the market for solid hitters that play the outfield position isn’t really deep this offseason. I don’t think Sori’s value has completely peaked yet. We just need one team to get desperate, then we could be golden.

        • J R

          Yeah but do the Cubs really want to take a chance that Sori can stay healthy another 2 months on his gimp legs. A lot can wrong the rest of this season, and I don’t see how his value could get any higher. To me it feels having him on the roster is like a time bomb, and that he could easily break anytime.

          • calicubsfan007

            @JR: I understand the risk that involves keeping Sori for those two additional months, and most times I would agree that it would be smarter to trade the guy now. But since it is Sori, I feel that it could be a smart gamble to wait until the offseason. Might be a worthwhile gamble, plus I feel like the Cubs wouldn’t really get much in return for Sori if they traded him now.

            • J R

              I hear ya Cali. Too be honest I don’ think the Cubs will get much for Sori now or this offseason. I would still move him now. I don’ think they would want his situation lingering around longer than it already has on their plans. Probably be lucky to get a few million in salary relief. I think a lot of MLB people still think he’s a joke regardless of how he’s doing this year.

              • calicubsfan007

                @JR: Good point. When the Yankees had no problem getting rid of him in the ARod trade, one knows that Sori is a joke. Even now, he is still a man without a true position. Sure, he has played the outfield for years now, but he has never been more than average at best and hideous at worst. We will probably get DH trade value for him, which isn’t bad, considering all that we have suffered through with Sori.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Wait: Sori was the key player in a trade for one of the (if not the) best players of a generation, and that makes him a joke?

                  (Yankee fans were pretty pissed at the time; Sori was very popular in NYC.)

  • anotherjp

    Yankees, Rays, Tigers, Dodgers… that seems to be the only teams Sori would go to. Maybe Washington. Wonder if any of them would give up a top 100 pitching prospect though.

  • Mr. Gonzo

    In a hypothetical Detroit trade with Soriano, if we eat nearly all his salary in order to get a good prospect back, what kind of prospect range should we expect.. Kevin Eichhorn or Kenny Faulk?

  • Ben

    At this point, I say keep him. If he finishes the season strong (which I believe he will), he could be an interesting guy to deal this winter. The lack of power bats that will be available would make him a far more interesting winter trade candidate. Other than Hamilton, there really won’t be a single FA hitter with 30 HR power. Besides, if they aren’t ready to promote Jackson, then he’s not blocking another player. Honestly, I would bench LaHair before him anyway.

  • CarneHarris

    Gotta be more going on than the west coast thing to be closer to his family if he would go to LA but not the Giants. Good article, though. Been wondering about this.

  • donnie kessinger

    I have softened my hard stance against Soriano as the year has progressed… I think the main reason I want him out is because i know he is not going to be a part of the team when we turn the corner. it would be nice to see what the younger kids can do, if they are keepers or not. I think upper management is always extremely complimentary of his skills and value as a teammate. When you are trying to trade someone, you certainly don’t want to bring up weaknesses.

  • J R

    The only team AL team in the hunt that would make sense I think is the Rays for Sori. Would he even approve a trade there though? They also never seem to be buyers either, and are cheap as hell.

    • SouthernCub

      I disagree, Detroit is a better fit and might be desperate. They need a #5 hitter and V Mart AINT comin’ back this yr. The sticking point for Detroit will obviously be how much $ the Cubs are willing to eat (I’m also guessing Soriano would approve a trade to Detroit)

  • ETS

    Probably a repost but did anyone see olney say that cubs were talking castro with the diamondbacks?

  • IndyCubsFan

    Just read an article from Olney saying Dbacks and Cubs were talking about Castro trade before the deadline. Not sure if Dbacks have anything even close to Castro’s value. Any opinions??

    • calicubsfan007

      @Indy: Well, from what I have heard, the Dbacks have a plethora of pitching talent. I might be wrong about that, Brett and Luke would know more about that.

    • J R

      Just a guess but maybe the Dbacks were trying to put together a deal with Upton and some of their stud pitching prospects for Castro and maybe Demp or Garza. Very long shot type deal.. But everyone’s got a price.

      • hansman1982

        ya, if you could get Upton, Cahill and Bauer plus another arm that is a deal you make, especially if you have concerns about Castro’s approach at the plate.

        • calicubsfan007

          @hansman: I really don’t want Upton though. He seems to embody the “Me first” mentality, which would hurt the rebuilding process for us.

          • SouthernCub

            Completely agree

          • DocPeterWimsey

            There is no evidence of that, other than the delusions of the DBacks owner. I’d count that as negative evidence.

  • IndyCubsFan

    Thanks @cali! Just seemed like and odd fit!

    • calicubsfan007

      @Indy:They have guys like Skaggs and Bradley. Could be a boost to our minor league pitching.

  • TonyP

    I wouldn’t trade Soriano without getting a stud prospect back and saving 4-6 million a year on the contract. Why trade him for some fringe prospect and eating so much money, as he isn’t blocking anyone from playing.

    • Mick

      You’ve got to trade Soriano now while you can get anything for him. Maybe we won’t get a top-100 type prospect or heck, maybe we will with this front office. Either way, it’s time to move on for Soriano and the Cubs. His value has peaked and it’s all down hill from here plus he at least seems somewhat willing to waive his no-trade clause since he asked the front office to present him what offers are out there. In regards to, “he’s not blocking anybody”, this is true, for now. But what about next season at this time when everyone is chomping at the bit to give Brett Jackson the starting LF spot? What will Soriano be then? Trade him now, call up Sappelt, let’s sign another reclamation project in the off-season and trade him at next year’s trade deadline.

      • TonyP

        Can Jackson not start in right or center? I think Lahair will end up in Japan next year… Sappelt I consider as a 4th outfielder not a starting caliber guy. To each there own. Everyone is allowed an opinion. I just don’t see the benefit trading Soriano for nothing and paying most of the $.

      • Kyle

        Lahair would move to left if sori goes.

        • TonyP

          Yes he probably would for the rest of this year. After the first 6-8 weeks Lahair as been terrible (hitting) and I can’t see him being a starter next year based on how bad he has hit. Maybe he is kept to be a cheap back up at 1B, LF and RF who knows.

    • terencem

      nice troll

      • TonyP

        Who are you calling a troll?

      • TonyP

        I’m a troll for having a different opinion than you, even though I presented my opinion in a respectful manner?

        • Turn Two

          I think Jackson would be coming in as the centerfielder.

        • TonyS

          Not troll-like in the sllightest. There was only one troll post in this exchange and it wasnt yours.

  • Rizzofanclub

    Soriano is not getting a stud prospect. I would be happy with a B level prospect(a teams 20th ranked prospect) and the cubs saving 9 million. I’m probably wishing for too much. Maybe if they made a pitch to the Rays or Tigers saying you only have to pay 2 million this year, 2 million next year, and 5 million the last year. That would give the cubs more money when they should be going after free agents and give teams a year to budget the extra salary.

    • calicubsfan007

      @Rizzofanclub: The Cubs really have to make a decision between salary relief and netting a decent prospect in return. They can’t have both. Personally, I would prefer the Cubs to just pick up the tab for most of the remaining money on Sori in order to get a decent prospect in return.

  • Derrek

    Just my two-cents on this (even though it’s probably just repeating a bunch of stuff other people have posted)…

    Soriano should be dealt in August. I would predict a deal between the Nationals or the Tigers. Cleveland would also be a possibility if they can gain some ground back in their division, a strong bat from the DH spot could certainly help them out. I would assume an American League team would be ideal for him because of the DH spot and all.

    As for the Cubs, in return a couple of mid-level prospects should be acceptable. It’s a good idea to get Soriano out ASAP though because he is doing very well (by his standards of course). Even though his defense has significantly improved I still get scared seeing him track down fly balls out there. Those legs are going to give out one day, hopefully that does not happen in a Cubs uniform.

    Soriano’s offense can change a game, but it is wasted on the Cubs. Get him to a contender and get some new faces in the ballpark. I will truly feel like the team is rebuilding when he is gone. Right now the team is just bad, we can’t even really say we are rebuilding because there is still dead weight. The lineups do not work and a trade like this will enable the management staff to test different lineups.

    • Wilbur

      I have similar feelings

    • Ben

      The problem is there is a very limited number of teams that would be interested in his bat. And Washington most certainly would not be one. With Harper, Werth, Morse, and LaRoche, they have too many players for 1st/OF as it is. Cleveland is dumping guys, which means they are giving up. Det is a possibility, but I doubt it happens.

      BTW- just read C Lee did not clear waivers. Hopefully the Cubs were on it.

  • Oswego chris

    someone claimed cliff lee…

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      Are the Cubs a possibility?

      • TonyP

        yes

        • TonyP

          I’m not sure if we are on his no trade list. He can block any move to 21 teams.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s not an insignificant story, by the way.

    • TonyP

      Dodgers

      #Dodgers awarded the claiming rights on Cliff Lee, according to @jonmorosi.

    • aCubsFan

      Could it be that the Dodgers had targeted Cliff Lee the whole time and why they didn’t want to trade any of the top prospect so they could use them on Lee?

      And, maybe they’ll do the same with the Phillies and just assume Lee’s contract and not give up anyone. So they load up with talent ,but not have to give anything up along the way.

      • nkniacc13

        The Phillies won’t give him away for free tho they could. I also don’t think the Dodgers have the minor league players to get Lee

        • aCubsFan

          I think the Phillies at this time would love to just dump salary, especially after the rich contract to Hamels.

          • nkniacc13

            they are below the luxery tax so that isn’t a concern. They also can make it until the year is over and likely get a really decent package for him

  • Alex

    http://youtu.be/0GebJl7E2jw

    Here is a nice video from Tim Sheridan taking a look at AZL Cubs players like Almora, Soler, Vogelbach (mentioning his call up) and Dunston. It includes an interview with Almora.

    • Leroy K.

      thank Alex was looking for this

  • Jackalope

    Lots of good bits on Cubs prospects in BA’s Prospect Hot Sheet Chat:

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/prospect-hot-sheet/2012/2613840.html

  • TonyP

    Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat
    Brett Jackson is with #Cubs

    • TonyP

      Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat
      Not sure corresponding roster move but Jackson is here for early BP. #Cubs

      • Chris

        Ridiculous. Muskat just tweeted she made a mistake…

      • TonyP

        Damn, sorry to get you excited. Stupid Twitter.

  • Chris

    What? Why? I hope it’s because they moved Soriano/DeJesus/LaHair and need another player. DeJesus and LaHair could have been claimed and traded today. Soriano wouldn’t have be been claimed, but maybe a deal was made. Not sure Jackson is ready for the big leagues yet, but I suppose he was coming up in September regardless, so why not now. Hopefully Vitters is not too far behind.

  • Dylan

    ‏@CarrieMuskat
    Never mind re: Brett Jackson. It’s Clayton Kershaw of the #Dodgers wearing an outfit that looks very much like #Cubs blue

    • dudeski

      carrie is amazingly incompetent at her job

    • SouthernCub

      WOW!!!!!!And she gets paid to do this for a living?!

  • thejackal

    that dont mean the dodgers get him yet tho right?

  • nkniacc13

    no the Phillies will pull Lee back and he can only be traded to the Dodgers and he can’t be placed on waivers again this year

    • TonyP

      The Phillies don’t have to pull him back however. They can just say here you go, take the contract. This does seem likely though.

  • thejackal

    k thnx didnt think so

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

    The Dodgers are going all out… where are they getting all of this money? Magic Johnson?

    • Cubbie Blues

      Huge tv deal.

  • die hard

    keep him for rest of contract and platoon with LaHair….could be worse

  • http://None Blinda

    Steve Clevenger to the Mets for Mike Pelfrey? Do you think the Mets would do that trade?

  • cubsin

    Do you miss Koyie Hill that much?

  • Kevin

    If the Cubs traded Soriano and agreed to pay $36M of the remaining $42M, how much would go against the receiving team’s luxury tax?

  • Dan Nolan

    The Score just read another blog that said BJax and Vitters are in uniform for today’s game in Los Angeles.

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