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On the one hand, reporting that the Chicago Cubs will be shopping Alfonso Soriano this offseason is a bit like reporting the rain in Seattle. We know they’re shopping Soriano. They have been for years.

But Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi have taken it a step further, and offered something a bit more concrete:

The Cubs expect to meet with teams regarding Soriano during the upcoming winter meetings in Nashville, according to major-league sources. It won’t necessarily be easy to deal Soriano, who has a full no-trade clause and is due a total of $36 million over the next two seasons ….

The Philadelphia Phillies are one obvious fit for Soriano. They are looking for a right-handed outfield bat to replace Hunter Pence, who was dealt to the San Francisco Giants at the July trade deadline. With Pence gone and catcher Carlos Ruiz suspended to begin the season, the Phillies have only one player on their active roster — shortstop Jimmy Rollins — who hit more than 15 home runs in 2012, when Ryan Howard and Chase Utley missed time with injuries.

The FoxSports pair go on to note that the Phillies’ current outfield - Darin Ruf, John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown – could very much use a big-time bat. (And to which I say, maybe the Cubs would take back the displaced outfield (former top prospect Dom Brown?).)

The nature of the report suggests to me a couple things: (1) the leak didn’t come from the Cubs, (2) the leak probably came from the Phillies, and (3) the Cubs really are going to have formal meetings with teams about Soriano. By that last one, I mean: this isn’t a situation where Bob-told-Fred-who-told-Jim-who-told-Jon that the Cubs maybe might be kinda shopping Soriano at the Winter Meetings. Instead, it sounds to me like someone on the Phillies side caught wind that his higher ups had scheduled a meeting or two with the Cubs’ brass specifically to discuss Soriano.

That doesn’t mean that a trade will happen this week, or at all. But it means that there is a level of seriousness to the trade efforts that go beyond the general “we’ll listen on anybody and we’d want quality pieces for someone like Soriano” stance the Cubs have taken in recent weeks.

The market for Soriano’s services are probably a mixed bag. Although he’s coming off an excellent season where his offensive production improved in tandem with his defensive ability, the free agent outfield market is rather robust. Yes, were he a free agent, Soriano would probably be viewed as among the best right-handed corner outfield options – many teams are seeking right-handed power this offseason. But many players are available for nothing more than cash. For Soriano, the Cubs will want prospects.

How much of Soriano’s $38 million salary through 2014 the Cubs are willing to eat is probably the most important factor in whether the Cubs will be able to deal him for a nice return. Just one year ago, teams wanted the Cubs to eat all but 5% of his deal just to put anything together at all. Soriano’s huge 2012 season has helped that situation considerably, and you now get the sense that if the Cubs were willing to eat $14 or $15 million of that deal, they could actually get a pretty nice return for him.

Obviously Soriano’s no-trade rights remain an issue – he has previously said that he would accept a trade only to a competitive team in the Eastern half of the U.S. (except for the Dodgers, who have no interest now). Depending on how the free agent market shakes out, I still see a number of teams who fit that bill and who could use Soriano – the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Orioles, the Rays, and the Braves, to name just a few besides the Phillies. But, if the Cubs are able to move Soriano, we’ll have to keep this limited market in mind when we judge the return.

The Cubs will also have to weigh the fact that, without Soriano’s bat, the Cubs’ offense goes from terrible – it was bottom three in baseball last year – to the lineup equivalent of the clown from ‘It.’ (That is to say: scary and long-term nightmare-inducing (I can’t be the only one).) Perhaps that’s not a concern, as the Cubs maybe don’t expect to be competitive in 2013.

I think, instead, it’s more likely that the Cubs recognize they might take an offensive hit without Soriano, but hope that they can reasonably approximate his bat on the free agent market (Ryan Ludwick?), and hope that they’re striking while the iron is hot on Soriano. Who knows? Maybe the Cubs are shopping Soriano aggressively because they’ve already got their sights set on a top free agent outfielder like Michael Bourn? Moving Soriano would mean the Cubs arguably need two outfielders, so we’ll see.

  • Kyle

    I’m not against the general idea, but they better have a larger plan. That is moving the total number of MLB quality outfielders further from where it needs to be.

    • MichiganGoat

      Wow Kyle quick on the draw

  • Brian Peters

    Good stuff here, Brett. Thank you!

  • MichiganGoat

    But but but that means another 100 loss seasons, cheap Ricketts, boycott team, fire Thed…

    Just wanted to get that out there early for everyone to discuss

    • DarthHater

      Ignored. ;-)

    • TheRiot2

      Yes I’m one of those who are tired of hearing cheap Cubs. The plan needs to be adhered on “building from within” , I for one am so glad that the days of throwing money at the on field product and hoping for positive results is gone.

  • http://Bleachernation.com Frank

    I think you covered it well Brett. Regardless if soriano is felt or not we still
    Need a lot more offense. Even if we don’t plan on competing,we still need to sell tickets. We are constantly reminded that baseball is a business. The only thing worse than paying to watch a bad team is paying to watch a bad,boring team. A team that can’t score runs is both. Lol

  • Tremendous Slouch

    Pennywise freaks me out! Him and the clown from Poltergeist, talk about nightmares!!!

    So outside of potentially getting Dominic Brown back, who else might the Cubs have their eyes on in the Phils system? Not that I would mind getting Brown.

  • http://Bleachernation.com Frank

    That should be dealt not felt. Stupid “smart phone”

  • Scott

    I am 28 and I still refuse to watch the movie “It”…terrifying

  • baldtaxguy

    Any one on the Phillies named Scott?

    Wilipedia on Fujikawa indicates that his name in Japanese means “baseball kid,” and not Scott.

  • MightyBear

    If they sign Bourn and jettison Soriano, I’m ecstatic. Soriano is a good player but was overpaid for most of his contract and he was always a defensive liability in left even with his upgraded defense this year. It is so much easier to fill in left, than center and right and if you’ve got a guy in left that has to play it hamstrings your manager as far as moving guys around. I know LaRussa always started teams with a hole in the outfield (usually left) and by the end of the season, the stats were always good for left field (sometimes he’d use 10 guys to get there LOL) but he would.

    • ssckelley

      If they sign Bourn he will be overpaid for much of his contract as well. He led the league in caught stealing while his number of steals are down. He has never been a run producer, having not topped 100 in any season, and without speed he is only a defensive player.

      • Rcleven

        Even if Bourn does not hit he brings a winning attitude that the young kids (and whole Cubs origination) needs.

        • myporsche

          He was with the astros his whole career until a season ago

          • Smitty

            Actually, I am pretty sure he came up with the Phillies and saw some time there. Your point still makes sense, though.

  • Zogie

    I still would like to know what possibilities the phils would give up? If we trade Sori would we look for a key SP prospect like Jesse Biddle, Trevor May, Brody Colvin, Ethan Martin? or would they look for a young outfielder like Domonic Brown to give him a chance? Maybe even RP like Phil Aumont, Josh Lindblom. Would a Domonic Brown and Josh Lindblom for Sori sound possible? Soooo many questions!

  • JR

    This post makes me very happy Brett. And the “It” part is funny and very true. But the Cubs absolutely need to trade him this offseason why he has value. A lot can go wrong with Sori next year at his age..

  • gutshot5820

    Please no more number 4 and 5 starters, I think we have enough of those now. And if we are going to trade for a marginal outfielder or pitcher, what’s the point of trading Soriano? We lose all his production, send cash and then have to go into free agency to replace his production and spend cash thus losing all the savings from the trade in the first place. Plus I don’t see any outfielders in free agency that will replace his production for a bargain basement price like some of the pitchers we have been signing. If we trade him, hopefully it will be for a pitcher or hitter with high upside in the minors.

    • JR

      Yeah I agree on not wanting anymore #4/5 starters. The Soriano situation is very tricky though with his NTC, his age, his knees, and his contract. I say move him now, it’s to risky to wait. But don’t trade him for close to nothing and pay a ton on his salary. Easy right?? LOL. Good luck Thed…

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Again, we might be looking at another supply and demand conundrum here: where there is demand, there is no supply and where there is supply there is no demand. Never minding the NTC, it seems that the teams that should be most interested in Sori are ones without very good prospects to offer. A deal with such teams means salary relief, but the Cubs do not have a real demand for that, at least not compared to their demand for quality young players.

    And the teams with prospects are not demanding Sori. Really, the one place I can see this working is TB, but they almost never acquire guys like Sori and he might not work too well for them with artificial turf, anyway.

  • Internet Random

    If you were to have told me a year ago that I’d have mixed feelings about the chance to “unload” Soriano, I’d have laughed in your face… loudly and with much knee slapping and rib holding.

  • Frank F

    If Soriano’s moved, it needs to be for real value. Cubs owe him something like 18MM each of the next two seasons. Wherever or however he spends those seasons, the Cubs are going to be paying him 75-100% of that salary. Therefore, if they’re paying it regardless, there’s. I reason to railroad him out of town and plop something inferior in his place. If he was blocking someone, that would be different. And no, he is NOT blocking Jorge Soler who’s still at least 2 years away.

    Obviously, nobody’s going to give up a top 25-50 prospect for Soriano no matter how much salary the Cubs eat. I’d be all for trading him for someone like Dom Brown, Alex Cobb, or Brian Matusz or another former top prospect whose team is close to giving up on them, but they’re still young enough that there’s hope plus a few prospects. The Cubs would include cash, somewhere between 75-100% of his salary, with the actual amount depending on the prospect(s) added by the other team.

  • Mike

    Trade Soriano, move Brett Jackson to his vacant spot in the outfield, sign Bourn, and have him play center.

  • Spencer

    I just can’t imagine the return for Soriano to be huge. Teams aren’t going to take all of his contract, obviously, so we’re going to trade him away while still paying him probably more than 50% of what he’s owed. Plus, are teams really going to be interested in trading a top 10-15 guy in their system for an aging outfielder? The Cubs would probably hit 45 home runs as a team next year if Sori gets traded. I say keep him, let him play out his contract.

    • Spencer

      That is not to say I think Soriano is necessarily worth a top 10-15 guy, just to illustrate I don’t think the return for Soriano would be equivalent to his worth, when you consider everything.

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    I might be in the minority here. But I’d rather have the Cubs spend $36M and keep Soriano than the Cubs spend $34M and get a Casey Weathers.

    • TonyP

      agreed, unless you can save serious money or get a serious prospect keep him.

    • daveyrosello

      Word.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t think there’s a single person who would prefer the latter.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Yeah, this does ring of “false dichotomy,” doesn’t it.

      • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

        But isn’t that what we’re looking at for a return? Realistically? Casey Weathers was just the first that came to mind.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          No. Weathers – even at time of last year’s trade – was a top 30 type prospect, rather than a top 10/15. The Cubs won’t move Soriano, especially if they’re eating so much money, for less than a top 10/15 type. And that’s without eating nearly as much cash as you suggested.

          No worries – your worst fears will not be realized.

          • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

            Okay, good. I’m holding you to that Brett!

  • Colin

    Have the Braves been mentioned? They have a need in left and seem to be loco about getting guys that can hit bombs. Would a Sean Gilmartin get this done?

    • Colin

      Or Evan Gattis maybe is more realistic. He’s older but looks like a masher at the plate.

    • Don

      How about Soriano for Delgado?

  • TonyP

    I hope the FO gets with Sori and gets a list of teams he is willing to go to, so the FO doesn’t continue to waste time and resources putting together a deal, for Sori to say no.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Sori probably would not give them a list of teams to which he would just go. He might give them a list of teams that he’d consider: but he still would want the right to say “no” in the end. (In a way, that is all that it can be, anyway.)

      • TonyP

        yep

  • Bill

    What would Soriano net in return? I understand that’s a difficult question to answer, depending on how much money the Cubs are willing to eat. Say the Cubs are willing to eat half the salary, what could they get? A top 10-15 guy? If it’s someone lower ranked than 10-15, is it worth trading him? He’s still a middle of the order bat (on a bad team). How will they replace his stats, especially his power? It’s not like the farm system is overflowing with guys ready to step in and take over. Jackson is a mess right now. The Cubs have money, so trading him just for salary relief doesn’t make sense unless they are going to use that money to get one of the better FA pitchers (or 3B and/or CF).

  • cubsin

    Trading Soriano and then signing Bourn would be incredibly stupid. Bourn would be an even bigger albatross around our necks for most of his tenure. Soriano could still hit home runs and drive in runs after his legs failed him. Once Bourn loses his speed, he’ll have practically no value.

  • nkniacc13

    The Cubs are likely going to have to get 30 million to even think abount getting a top 10-15 guy unless a bidding war breaks out and I don’t see that happening

    • Kyle

      I think you’re overestimating how good a guy at the back half of the top-15 is. Soriano should definitely get one of those if you’re eating most of the contract.

  • TonyP

    I don’t want to trade him for a trash prospect just to save money (not my money so that is easy to say).

  • IndyCubsFan

    Brett-How accurate is Bowden (ESPN) with his insight? He thinks the Cubs will talk again with the Angels about Marmol… Your thoughts?

    • TonyP

      Seeing that the Angels almost traded for Marmol once and just missed out on the Japanese closer I would say that it is likely.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I think Tony’s right – on this one, Jim is just connecting the logical dots.

    • TonyP

      And I know I’m not Brett but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

  • http://Bleachernation.com Frank

    I hope the FO don’t spend the whole winter meetings trying to deal for Sori and not get anything else done. With our expanded front office we should be able to multi-task.

  • Matt

    I would like to see the cubs try and trade Barney and whatever else is needed to Detroit for Nick Castellanos. I would then like to see the Cubs try and put a deal together to get Jedd Gyorko. The Padres have discussed moving Gyorko Back to 2nd base (his natural position) since they have Chase Headley at 3rd and are hoping they can work out an extension with him. Padres have a few different options at 2nd and it looks like Gyorko might be the odd man out with Headly still at 3rd. I would then try and package together Garza (and others) to KC for Wil Meyers. I would then try and work something out with the Braves to send Soriano in exchange for Randall Delgado.

    Obviously there would be more pieces in the trades for them to workout but basically those would be the main players.

    future possible lineup (not batting order):
    CF: Almora
    LF: Meyers
    RF: Soler
    1B: Rizzo
    2B: Gyorko/Baez
    SS: Castro
    3B: Baez/Castellanos
    C: Castillo

    • Timothy

      That is counting a lot of eggs.

    • Don

      If you can acquire all these guys I’d say make all these trades. Castellanos will be a star.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I would like to see the cubs try and trade Barney and whatever else is needed to Detroit for Nick Castellanos.

      What the Tigers need is Nick Castellanos. He’ll be playing 3rd for them for a long time starting next year or 2014 at latest.

    • Tim

      I mean that is never going to happen. Sure, it would be great, but I don’t see those trades being based in reality. Who else will the Cubs be giving up to get Castellanos? I think as Cubs fans we see Barney winning a gold glove and think his value is actually higher than it is in real life. Barney would not be enough of a center piece to get the Tigers top 3B prospect. You fail to mention who the Cubs would give up to get Gyroko from the Pads, and it wouldn’t be cheap. Last, you assume the Royals would be willing to give up a future perennial all-star(Myers) for one year of Matt Garza. I don’t see it, as much as I love Garza he is a #2 pitcher and coming off injury. Soriano for Delgado might be the most realistic of all of your ideas, but Delgado is not much more than Travis Wood. A cost controlled 4th/5th starter. We have plenty of those guys already.

      Basically, I think your whole post is a big fairy tale not based in reality. I am surprised you didn’t suggest us trading Wellington Castillo plus some “other pieces” for Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. Whatever it takes to make it work….as you put it

    • cub2014

      why would cubs trade for prospects at 2nd and 3rd the cubs are already loaded with those prospects. baez,lake,villanueva,candelario,amaya,saunders,bruno,watkins and more that are a year or two away. they will do stop gap at 3rd and outfield, for marmol and barney
      i think they are going after pitchers because that is where the cubs are weak.

      unfortunately i dont see how they trade soriano what would be left for the offense. almora,solar, vogelbach are 2 years away that is what they are building towards

  • DarthHater

    I’ve read a lot of comments on this site recently about how the Cubs should be looking to sign a good power-hitting outfielder and should even be willing to pay a pretty hefty annual salary, as long as it’s a short-term deal. Well, I know a guy who fits the description to a tee and who I am 100% certain is willing to play for the Cubs for only 2 years at $18 million per year. His name is Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs should jump all over that guy.

    • Brian Peters

      The folks who say the Cubs NEED a power-hitting outfielder that the Cubs should be willing to pay a hefty price for need their heads rattled. That’s exactly what the Cubs don’t need in the evolution from Hendry to Hoyer. The only reason these folks want a power hitter to come play with the Cubs–or, in your case, for Soriano to stay here–is to supposedly add a few more wins to the mix. I implore you to look at the last two World Series winners and tell me what kind of offense wins championships. The Giants don’t hit HRs, and yeah, Pujols helped the Cardinals get into and win the World Series, but when push came to shove, it was the doubles hitters who came through for them. Cub fans need to alter their mindset. Just because we have a small ballpark doesn’t mean we have to have a beast who is able to do two things: hit home runs and strike out. It’s just the Bears’ tired, run heavy offense. Yeah, they manage to do okay, but throughout the years, teams who have won have had solid qbs who can air out the ball. Let’s move away from the same-old Cubs and learn how to be more disciplined. Let’s start by kicking Sori to the curb because he’s not going to have another season like he just did. Period.

      • DarthHater

        I was not advocating keeping Soriano, so much as pointing out the oddness of the position of those who thought the Cubs should be chasing BJ Upton. If chasing a guy like that is a good idea, then we might as well keep Soriano. Conversely, if trading Soriano is a good idea, then why would it make sense to sign a BJ Upton?

      • Kyle

        The fact that the Giants won the World Series doesn’t mean we should emulate their offense, which wasn’t that good. That’s like emulating the Ravens’ offense from their Super Bowl seasons. It completely misses the point of why they won.

        Home runs and doubles are not an either/or choice. The teams that hit the most home runs generally hit a lot of doubles too.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Indeed, that was one of the points of Moneyball: slugging is extrabase hitting, and although HR are a lot more instant gratification than are doubles, guys who hit a lot of 2B+HR one year are bound to hit a lot of 2B+HR the next year. That’s more predictive than HR totals alone.

          That said, the Giants offense probably represents a minimum of what you need to win: it was only about 40 runs above NL median. Pitching (and particularly starting pitching) made them a playoff caliber team.

          However, the Giants offense generated 200 TB+BB more than did the Cubs. That is a multiple batter difference!

      • DarthHater

        he’s not going to have another season like he just did.

        Shhhh! Other teams might hear you!

  • nkniacc13

    Brett, Luke any ideas if or who will the cubs look at picking in the Rule 5 draft?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Will have a post on it this week. Draft is on Thursday.

      • nkniacc13

        thanks i see here mlbtr says an exc says it maybe one of the deepest in recent history

        • wdcock2

          If you are interested, Jonathan Mayo (mlb.com) did his top 20 players eligible for the rule V draft. It is also worth noting that Nick Struck didn’t make the list, so hopefully he will not be drafted. Personally, I like Tim Crabbe (rhp reds), Jarret Martin (lhp dodgers), Braulio Lara (lhp rays), or Carlos Perez (lhp braves), however there are a lot of interesting players to consider. I can’t wait to see Brett/Luke’s lists and thoughts.

    • DarthHater

      Josh Fields!

  • Deez

    Now, I’m all for this signing flippable assets thing, but I would say trade Soriano, get prospects & sign no one long term.
    We lost 100 games w/ Soriano & his $18M/yr salary. We will not be “competitive” for another 2 years & if we can get prospects that can speed up our prospects for the future, I’m all for it. I don’t see any player out there currently who can speed up our goal of being a constant viable contender for years to come.

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