Alfonso Soriano remains not only the biggest Chicago Cubs piece on the theoretical trade market this month, he’s also probably the biggest trade piece in all of baseball that could realistically be moved this month.
That’s thanks in large part to his large contract, which pays him about $6 million more this year, and then $18 million in each of 2013 and 2014. Because of that healthy contract, as we’ve discussed, no team is going to want to claim him on waivers. Instead, they’ll wait for him to clear, and then – if interested – try to make a deal with the Cubs where they eat a fair portion of the remaining dollars on Soriano’s deal.
Of course, to get to that point, Soriano’s gotta go through waivers first. The process is highly secretive, and it hasn’t yet been reported if Soriano has been placed on waivers. Given that teams can place up to seven players on waivers every two days in August, you’ve gotta believe Soriano has made the trip at this point – I have a hard time imagining the reason for waiting, save perhaps for the desperate hope that a rash of injuries might occur out there that compels some insane team to claim Soriano on his way through waivers. I don’t think that seems remotely realistic, so it makes more sense to me to get him through the process as soon as possible.
And, whenever it happens, Soriano’s going to know about it. Although it’s a secret, Soriano tells the Sun-Times that he’s got an inside man who will alert him. As of last Friday, Soriano said, he hadn’t yet been put on waivers. He believes the odds he’s dealt are, right now, just 50/50. And, remember, he’s got no-trade rights, so it’s up to him.
‘‘It’s 50-50 right now for going or staying,’’ Soriano told the Sun-Times. ‘‘I feel comfortable here. The only thing that makes me [consider] going to another team [is the chance to win]. But I’m in no rush. I feel comfortable [in Chicago], but the only negative thing now is losing and that they look like they want to build a young team. We’ll see what happens.’’
But, according to Dejan Kovacevic, one of those winning teams to whom Soriano won’t accept a trade is the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s possible Soriano would change his mind if presented with an actual deal, but, for now, it is my understanding that Soriano will not consider a deal to anywhere on the West Coast (outside of the Dodgers), or to the Pirates.
On the year, Soriano is hitting .270/.321/.492 with 19 homers, and has played quality defense in left field. Even at age 36, he has considerably value (again, assuming the Cubs absorb a large chunk of the contract) on the trade market. But, to be fair, he also has considerable value to the Cubs going forward. In a lineup that is relatively thin on power, Soriano could still provide quite a bit of pop next year. Further, unless you consider Bryan LaHair a must start, Soriano isn’t blocking any Cubs prospects going into next season, and he’s the top veteran leader on the positional side for the Cubs. An exemplary quote from Soriano: ‘‘I cannot do anything wrong because [the young players watch] me. I have to be more careful how I play the game because those guys aren’t veterans like me. I’ve got to do my job perfect to teach them the right way.’’
Dumping him just to dump him is no longer in the cards. Nor should it be.