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Going into the Winter Meetings last week, you’ll recall reports that the Cubs were going to meet with teams about left fielder Alfonso Soriano. Coming off a big season at the plate and in the field, the 36-year-old Soriano had new-found trade value, and the Cubs, steeped in a rebuild, could be looking to cash in on that value.

The team mentioned specifically in those reports was the Philadelphia Phillies, who are known to be looking for a right-handed power bat to insert in the middle of their lineup. Perfect fit for Soriano, right?

Well, according to Jon Heyman, the two sides did discuss a specific deal, which would have sent Soriano and a load of cash to the Phillies for former top prospect Domonic Brown. The 25-year-old outfielder hasn’t had the breakout success in Philly that was long expected of him – he sports a .236/.315/.388 career line over 492 plate appearances – but he was the number 4 prospect in all of baseball to Baseball America before the 2011 season. His talent is unquestionable. Whether it will translate in the bigs remains a bit question. His numbers have been huge in the minors, until the last two partial seasons at AAA. Most believe he’s a corner outfielder at this point, although he played all over the outfield in the minors.

Heyman adds that Philly really likes Soriano’s bat, but still questions his defense. They may prefer to go the free agent route, Heyman says, possibly with Cody Ross. The Cubs, according to Heyman, are willing to eat all but $10 million of Soriano’s deal to up the return in prospects.

Soriano on a two year, $10 million deal looks like a steal in this market, and, indeed, the Cubs should demand a quality return if that’s the offer they’re putting on the table. Would Brown, alone, be enough, considering his slightly-stalled-out status? He’s a high upside flyer – perhaps higher upside than any other player the Cubs could reasonably acquire – but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the hangup involved the Cubs asking for more, as unreasonable as that might sound.

Don’t take it for more than my own sense of these things, but this report feels like the kind that is leaked by one side to try and put pressure on a free agent like Ross to sign a deal – or to put pressure on the Cubs to lower their asking price on Soriano. That is to say, it feels like it’s coming from the Phillies, who may be frustrated at their inability to consummate a deal with the Cubs or with Ross.

In other words, a deal involving Soriano and Philly might still happen. But it might not be the Phillies’ preferred route.

As always, Soriano’s no-trade rights are a hurdle, but Philly falls into the general category of team Soriano has said he’d be willing to accept a trade to – East Coast and very competitive.

UPDATE: From Jayson Stark, who presumably spoke to a Phillies official who wanted to get the message just right: Phillies were initially uninterested when Cubs approached them on Soriano. Now kicking it around but a long shot to actually happen.” That’s pure Philly spin, but it also sounds like it is probably accurate. Distill it for what it says: the Phillies are interested, but a deal is unlikely. That’s what the whole thing sounds like to me. Most trades are unlikely.

  • morgan

    could be a solid deal, but would make the team with only 3 rh hitters in the lineup

  • RY22

    I would pack his bags for him tonight… after I finish studying for finals that is

  • Ben

    I had suggested this same deal earlier today. I think it’s solid, though if the Cubs are willing to eat that much salary, I wonder if we shouldn’t get at least another low level prospect. Maybe that is the hold up. If Victorino is getting 13 per year, Soriano on a 2 year, 10 million dollar deal is an absolute steal. Given that the Phillies plan to displace Brown no matter whether they make a trade or sign someone, it seems like a deal is still possible.

  • Justin

    I would take Brown and Kendrick if Philly is willing to deal. I would think this would scare Ross to sign with his highest bid right now so the Philly leak could lose Ross if he has a better deal elsewhere

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Phils also looking for setup man for Papelbon. Throw in Marmol with Soriano & we’ll take back Brown & Mayberry. They can have Vitters too if they want a future 3rd baseman.

  • sclem21

    Sounds like Phils considered similar deal but w/ Royals and Francoeur. Would be shocked if they liked Frenchy more than Fonsy…

  • http://windycitysportswonk.blogspot.com myles

    This seems fair for both sides. will he go to philly, though?

  • cRAaZYHORSE

    If i was the Phillies I would trade no-name Brown and his .236/.315/.388 . Face it if the CUbs did not have Soriano last year the CUbs would Have the Number 1 pick . Dammit how may more years is Soriano gonna cost the CUBS a number 1 pick. I think Chicago should get on Soraino case – cause he is soley resposible for the CUbs being in a tailspin these last past years and his offensive numbers does not insure a number one pick. . All kidding aside Soriano for Brown? plus we give 28 million towards his salary. This how our GM fixes Problems.

  • Justin

    Youk to NYY!

  • Frankie N

    How is it that teams don’t jump on Soriano for 2/$10 mil but victorino and youk get 12 each after Soriano put up 30 and 100 with an improved effort on D.

    • Marcel91

      no clue. Mybe don’t want to give up players

    • jayrig5

      Defensive concerns are different. Teams can look at a box score, or a season’s worth of offensive numbers, and see quality performance. But other teams don’t exactly scout all 162 games of the Cubs major league season, so the narrative of Soriano being an awful defender in the outfield (which was very much with merit until this season) takes precedence. Especially if he had a bad game or two against the Phillies, or when they had a scout watching. I should also say that Philly seems like a very old-school organization; at the very least their manager is.

  • Noah

    Brown intrigues me. Sure, he’s been bad in the majors so far, but his BABIP in the majors has been way lower than it was in the minors. The K and BB rates are both fine, the ISO is fine. He’d be a decent upside play, especially if the Cubs only have to eat $10 million of what’s left of Soriano’s contract.

    • Noah

      I had the numbers reversed (because I read it on MLBTR, which also has the numbers reversed). If the Cubs have to continue to pay $13 million a year, I’d need more than just Brown in return.

  • ssckelley

    There has got to be more than Brown involved in this deal, right? No way would I pay that much money to have Soriano play for someone else and just get back Domonic Brown in return.

  • North Side Irish

    Cubs should make an offer to Cody Ross to put more pressure on the Phillies. Or just wait for the Dodgers to sign him.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It would be funny – if the Cubs knew for certain that the Phillies were down to just Ross or Soriano, the Cubs could try and force their hand by snapping up Ross for a healthy sum.

      But that’s mostly just us having fun, because the Cubs might not want Ross quite that badly, and the Phillies probably aren’t so desperate for one of the two (and only those two) that taking Ross off the market would make the Phillies capitulate to any Cubs demand.

  • Cory

    So I read that the D-backs offered Bauer and Skaggs for Asdrubel Cabrera which to me seems like alot. But can we play the hypothetical if he’s worth that what is Castro worth game?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If Cabrera is worth those two (for real?), Castro’s value is insane. Cabrera is slightly better with the bat (but Castro has at least as much offensive upside), and Castro is going to be the better defender in the long run. And then the kicker? Cabrera is under contract through 2014 only.

      Castro’s value would be insane in that schema. But that doesn’t mean you trade him, obviously.

      • Logan

        I’d love for the Cubs to try and sell Barney as a SS for Bauer. In these three-way trade talks going on right now, MLBTR is reporting the D-Backs would prefer to get DiDi Gregorius instead of Cabrera. I think Barney would be a nice get for them as opposed to Gregorius, and I sure would love to have Bauer in the Cubs system

        • DocPeterWimsey

          The DBacks should be able to get quite a bit better than Barney or Gregorius for Bauer. However, here is hoping!

  • Logan

    As a Domonic Brown owner in a dynasty league the last 3-4 years, I can tell you that Brown has been battling wrist and leg injuries the last couple of seasons. The wrist injury has cause his power and what not to take a big hit, and obviously his speed took a hit because of the leg. The last time he was fully healthy was 2010 when he tore up the minors and became the #4 prospect as a result. He’s also been toyed aroudn with by the Phillies coaching/front office in terms of playing time. When they had a hole to fill in LF last year, instead of having Brown, who had recovered from his 2011 injuries, be the obvious favorite, they favored John Mayberry instead and made the two duke it out in spring training for the spot, where I believe Brown’s leg injury occurred. The Phillies seemed hell bent on not giving Brown adequate playing time to prove himself. It was all very reminiscent of the mid 2000’s Cubs when they wouldn’t commit to guys like Felix Pie because they got off to slow starts.

  • StevenF

    There is no way I would characterize his numbers in the minors as “Huge”. The guy does not have enough power for a corner outfielder, his average is below .300, and OBP is weak as well. That minor league batting average will certainly not translate to the same in the bigs. This is nothing to be excited about. In fact, I’d pass. I’d rather discuss Soriano and Marmol as a package for something more respectable.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Brown was walking in about 11% of his PAs in the minors (taking his OBP over 0.370) and he had pretty good doubles power (doubling or tripling in about 6.5% of his ABs).

      Quite frankly, if they could get that much for Soriano, then I would be very tempted. 12 months ago, I would have thought that a pipe dream: and not the kind of pipe you smoke legally, either.

      • terencemann

        I think Brown would probably be the best return the Cubs could hope for out of Soriano.

    • TWC

      He had a .373 OBP in the minors. That’s “weak”?

  • Justin

    Sounds like Philly doesn’t want to do the deal as it was brought up to them about a trade. Jayson Stark says it’s a long shot to happen

  • Brad

    Soriano and Marmo for Brown and Biddle

    • Justin

      HAHA ya right. Get their top prospect? Not happening

  • 2much2say

    Cubs are believed to be willing to pay $10MM of the $36MM remaining on Soriano’s deal
    Read more at http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/#FKbiXvTBRxo1TooO.99

    • TWC

      Or, if you read the article that Ace wrote, above, you’d note that the Cubs are reported to be willing to pay all BUT $10m of the $36m remaining.

    • Brad

      That was an error. Cubs will pay ALL BUT 10 Million, not 10 million, so they will pay 18 MIL.

      • Brad

        26 mil*

  • another JP

    LMAO @ Philly… making it like they are the ones holding up a potential trade. Dealing Sori and giving $28M for Brown is a great deal and they know it. Just like Marmol for Haren- our front office will shoot this down first and the east coast media chumlies are playing games to pressure Theo. Not gonna happen.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

    Prediction:

    After all the talk, we end up with a very quiet offseason on the trade front.

    The free agent market seems to be moving slowly enough that it’ll drag into January, and nobody will meet our prices while there’s still free agent alternatives out there. And by then, we’ll be in “Well, screw it, we’ll wait until the deadline and see if we can get more then” mode.

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

    Reports saying Phillies offered Josh Hamilton 3 years and 80 million. That could kill any hopes of this trade.

    • Marcel91

      wow, that deal just looks ridiculous on paper.

    • Justin

      Where did you get that info?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Believe Crasnick says it’s fake and originated from a fake Twitter account, if it’s the same report.

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

        Darn those fake Twitters. Thanks, Brett.

      • another JP

        Even if it wasn’t fake the Soriano deal is a no-brainer for Philly or anyone else considering Josh Hamilton IMO. 4 WAR Sori @ $5M AAV + a prospect vs. 4.4 WAR Hamilton @ $25-30M AAV? Plus Soriano’s defense was much better last year and he won’t be at risk to go on a bender. We can do much better than Brown as a return if there’s only $10M coming back to the Cubs on Alf’s contract.

  • Mick

    Aumont and Ruf and call it a day.

    • jayrig5

      I think Ruf is a bit overrated. The list of 25 year-old AA players who went on to sustained MLB success is…nonexistent, basically.

      • Mick

        20th round pick who has hit at every level, this is Mark Trumbo part 2.

  • JR

    Soriano is exactly what the Phillies need a power right handed bat. But at this point trading Soriano seems only a dream…

  • northsiders6

    Trade sori for anything that has potential to help cubs compete when they think the window is open. Cubs will not compete 2013 and prob not 2014. Our luck, he is held on to until the trade deadline and his stock has dropped like crazy.

  • Tommy

    I don’t know anything about this Domonic Brown, but just looking at his stats, it seems like he has really struggled adjusting to the major leagues over the last 3 years.

  • calicubsfan007

    That would be nice to trade Sori. Brown would really be a cherry on the top. Sori was good for us last year, but it is time for him to go.

  • Itzscott

    Cubs are going nowhere with or without Soriano the next two years. I’d rather take a flyer on a highly rated prospect who may be a late bloomer than waste a rare opportunity to trade Soriano while it’s there.

    • Tommy

      I think the Cubs can do better prospect-wise, and frankly, I’d like to hang on to him if we can’t do better and see if the Cubs can’t surprise some people this year. If we do by some miracle perform much better than expected, his power numbers from the right side of the plate will be much needed.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

    UZR hates Brown’s OF defense with the fire of a thousand suns.

    I can’t help but think this is one of those guys who fools people with all his “buy low” characteristics, by letting them obscure the fact that he’s not very good at baseball.

  • another JP

    If Texas is losing Hamilton & needs to sign a guy like Sanchez Sori could be an ideal cheap replacement in the outfield and the money they save can be used to acquire Anibel. All it would cost them is Olt… get er done Theo/Jed.

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