Lukewarm Stove: Suddenly the Phillies Don’t Want an Outfielder, LaRoche Returns, More

stoveIt’s been a relatively quiet first week of January. Contrast that to last year, when the Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano for Chris Volstad and traded Andrew Cashner (plus) for Anthony Rizzo (plus) in this first week of January. Maybe that means moves are nearing …

  • Just a couple days ago, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said this: “We’re still trying to improve, depth-wise, in our outfield, if we can. We don’t have proven everyday Major League players on our corners right now. If we can create some depth there, if we can create some competition, I would like to do that.” Perhaps recognizing the lack of wisdom in so publicly showing his hand, Amaro now says this, per Matt Gelb: “We’re likely going with what we’ve got [in the outfield] …. There’s some risk in going with a possible double platoon or letting the guys we have battle it out for playing time. There are some advantages to that, as well. The best-man-wins type of scenario can be created and likely will be created in spring training. At the same time, a lot of these guys are not proven everyday major-league players. But that doesn’t mean they cannot become them.” While he wouldn’t rule out adding an outfielder, the way he characterized that pursuit would seem to rule out any notable players: “looking around for some low-risk, high-reward type of players.” Eh hem. In my most Chad Ochocinco-y voice: “Chiiiild, please.” The Phillies are *clearly* not comfortable breaking camp with unproven outfielders at both corner positions (and without a big right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup – no, Michael Young doesn’t count), and I see no reason to count them “out” on an Alfonso Soriano trade unless the two sides simply can’t come to an agreement on value. (Or if Soriano decides he won’t go to Philly.)
  • To the point: this morning, Ken Rosenthal reported, in a piece about a variety of teams’ remaining needs, that the Phillies are still trying to find a right-handed hitting outfielder.
  • Scott Hairston made some sense for the Cubs for a variety of reasons. He can play all over the outfield, crushes lefty pitching, and is likely to come on a short-term deal. But, if the Cubs were ever in on him, they aren’t anymore. Hairston’s agent says the free agent is down to the Mets and the Yankees. It must be a New York thing. While neither seems like a perfect fit, it’s fair to wonder whether the loser would have any interest in Soriano.
  • The Red Sox remain “hopeful” that they can work out a deal with Mike Napoli, says Peter Abraham. I explained yesterday why the Napoli/Sox deal probably matters to many, many other teams in baseball, and it just got placed into even greater focus now that …
  • The Nationals are set to re-sign Adam LaRoche to a two-year deal for about $24 million (plus an option), according to various reports. LaRoche had been holding out for a three-year deal, and reportedly had been talking to the Red Sox while the Napoli situation played out. Does his re-signing mean the Napoli deal will get done? Does his re-signing mean Michael Morse is now squarely on the trade block? I don’t know about the first, but I’d say the answer to the second is a very clear yes.
  • Morse being on the trade market probably hurts the market for Soriano slightly, but I think teams were probably always anticipating that Morse was going to become available – at least once it became clear that LaRoche wasn’t going to the Rangers, and probably wasn’t going to the Red Sox. Further, Soriano is a much better defender in left, and that’s saying something. If the Phillies, for example, think they can hide him in left with Ben Revere in center, though, this could get interesting. Morse is under control for 2013 at $6.75 million, and is a free agent after the season.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

36 responses to “Lukewarm Stove: Suddenly the Phillies Don’t Want an Outfielder, LaRoche Returns, More”

  1. Ben

    I would be shocked to see Morse on the Phillies. Baseball teams are weird about trading within their division. I would imagine the Nationals won’t help the Phillies out unless they get someone they really like in return.

  2. Marc

    Not too worried about Morse throwing off the Soriano market. Defensively he’s a 1B while Soriano won’t kill you as your everyday LF.

    1. Adventurecizin' Justin

      Here’s how I see it: if there is a market for Soriano and we get someone young who can step in immediately…cool! If there isn’t a market for Soriano and he is our LFer in ’13…cool!

      1. CubFan Paul

        If there isn’t a market for Soriano and he is our LFer in ’13… not cool!

        That means the sunk cost will still be around instead of longterm assets. I have a hard time seeing Theo&Co wasting Sori’s 32/108 season.

        1. Bwa

          Soriano has some value as protection for rizzo. You don’t want everyone to pitch around him and stunt his growth as a hitter. Though If there is any value abailable trade him

        2. JR

          Yeah I have been on the trading Soriano bandwagon for years. And it seems like his value can only go down after last year. But if were only getting marginal prospects back then it’s almost pointless. Theo needs to get Soriano on board with opening up the places he is willing to go. Maybe threaten to platoon him because of a youth movement or something? Sounds harsh, but if he’ll only go to a couple places it really screws his value.

        3. brickhouse

          You are really into Theo speak – Soriano is a 37 year old player with bad knees and 36 million left on his contract. Baseball players are usually in decline sometimes rapidly at that age. Even with the Cubs willing to eat 26 million you aren’t getting much more than a B prospect and that is if Soriano approves the trade.

    2. CubFan Paul

      which means Seattle will trade for Morse.

  3. james

    I was thinking of a fair trade for Porcello between the three teams. Lets see The Cubs would get Rick Porcello from the Tigers and Jonathan Schoop from the Orioles. Orioles would receive Alfonso Soriano and Jeff Russel or Travis Wood from the Cubs plus money for Soriano. The Tigers would recieve Carlos Marmol and cash from the Cubs and JJ Hardy from the Orioles.

    1. Danny Ballgame

      Get Theo on the horn and make it happen

  4. Cyranojoe

    I’m surprised we never see anyone theorizing what teams Soriano would be willing to go to. I mean, ignore which teams *need* him, we hear enough about that. What teams would Sori willingly go to?

    I’ve said it before, I suspect he’s holding out for a final turn with the Yankees. He’s turned down Baltimore before, I think he will continue to do so — their history of failure isn’t washed away by a year or two of moderate success. I recall he turned down a deal to go to the Angels, which means he’s serious about not going to the west coast (no team out here with a better chance of getting Sori a ring than they). Which leaves… where, exactly?

    I guess the key question is, what are his real requirements? Looking for a Latino-friendly team? Preference for old haunts? Possibility of an extension?? (LOL!)

  5. Dougy D

    I think that there really isn’t much for teams with any interest in a mediocre left fielder that has little range, and while he still has some power, isn’t that good of a hitter. The ones that do have interest in him, he won’t approve the trade. Thanks Jim Hendry. Still managing to screw the Cubs well after you are gone.

    The FO needs to take whatever they can get for him from where he is willing to go. I would much rather see Michael Morse, but I am guessing that if Sori would go there, we would have to pony up at least one decent prospect to go along with him (and $ of course).

    1. Craig

      Wouldn’t he have had 10 and 5 rights the last couple of years anyway. Really doesn’t matter if he has NTC

      1. Pat

        The NTC no longer matters to the Cubs, but it might limit him as a “flippable asset” if the team trading for him falls out of contention. The NTC goes with him in a trade.

        1. Scotti

          The problem has been his right of refusal. Teams have offered to trade for him even with the NTC and he has refused. Any team that he agrees to go to will only assume that he will be at least somewhat amiable to move again (rightly or wrongly).

    2. cRAaZYHORSE

      Its not Jim Hendry screwing anyone. You can thank the current Front office for it The .lack of baseball operations in managing the 25 man roster, You can blame not signing Aram to a contract extension, You can blame trading Colvin and LeM ….(what his name). You should blame the front office., on the flip side -the draft was great . Soler loooks like the real deal – Concepcion looks like he is Not worth the milllions he signed or the signing bonus to boot, This team lost 101 games and it could have been worse without Soriano. Blame the front office and mask it under a rebuild mode.

      1. DarthHater

        Brett:

        Could you please suspend the rule against calling somebody here an idiot, just this once? Thanks.

      2. AB

        WhAT in GoDS’ .NAMe Re You blatheri-ng abOut??

      3. hansman1982

        If theo barely gets credit for the 2007 World Series I think I can blame Hendry for at least 2013.

        He’ll I’m still blaming Andy macphail.

      4. Jimmy James

        Yeah we coulda used aram in 2012 let’s see how his 2013, 2014, 2015 go……too lazy to see how many years he signed with the brew crew for

        1. hansman1982

          three year deal…

  6. Ben (BG2383)

    I have no interest in the Cubs sending Soriano packing (and eating a substantial amount of cash) for one or 2 C level prospects. He offers the Cubs more value than he does other teams apparently and I do not mind having him in the lineup

    1. cRAaZYHORSE

      I agree.

  7. Gcheezpuff

    Right now Soriano isn’t blocking anyone, the Cubs are paying the majority of his contract if traded and all if he’s not, and Jed and Theo are not stupid. Anyone suggesting they trade him for anything they can get, back up the bus. No point in moving him for nothing only to have to find another OF to replace him. My guess is they know where he is willing to go and are trying to find a deal worth making, if not now, they hold him and try again at the deadline if a team is willing to deal something of value.

    1. DarthHater

      Sounds about right.

  8. cheryl

    It’s nice to dream about trading Soriano but the closer we get to spring training the more reality sinks in. One: He will probably not be traded. Two: He’ll not be asked about by other teams. Three: He may well be back in 2014.

  9. Bob

    We are stuck with Soriano. Get over it. Moving him for low level prospects and eating $ doesn’t make much sense. Place him behind Rizzo in line up and hope for the best. If he repeats last years numbers we may get a better offer before trade deadline. He is a good clubhouse guy. I don’t know what his WAR was last season but I have to imagine he bought about 5-10 wins with the 30hr and 100 RBI. He protects Rizzo in the lineup. I don’t see anyone replacing that role if we deal him. His unwillingness to move to certain teams greatly diminishes his trade value. If the cubs do know the teams he is willing to be dealt to they will not divulge that info. It takes away any upper hand they might have in negotiations. I am hoping he has a good start, Hoyer and co start some trade rumors to various teams to create some buzz and maybe one of these mystery teams Soriano will approve will bite. That would be best case Soriano.

  10. Timmy

    I agree with most of these posts. We’re stuck with Soriano, and he’ll probably decline rapidly especially in the last year of his contract. Yet, it’s also not worth eating 30 million for a probable never-was ‘prospect’ that the other team is merely willing to dump. If Soriano can hit 260/25/75 over the next two years that’s about all we should expect and while absurdly overpriced there are worse things than a slightly better than average outfielder with a 1.5 WAR or however it works out. Best case scenario is that we find a team with a salary dump like Toronto did and ship them Soriano with some eaten contract. But he’s definitely worth more than a nobody at essentially the same price.

    1. Good Captain

      Agree. Trading AS for two hot dog vendors or equivalent prospects while assuming 75% of his salary doesn’t really help us as much as it hurts us under all existing circumstances IMO. A quality FO has to know both what they will and what they won’t do. Their failure to adhere to adhere to their limits would present a longer term warning flag.

  11. calicubsfan007

    Nice save Amaro. It is like tripping in front of everyone and then acting like it didn’t happen… (=

  12. Todd McCombs

    Wish they would just keep Soriano – He is worth the 5 mil we are going to get for him – wont get a player that will help us at all in the future – He is not blocking anyone who should be in left – Played well in the outfield and one of the few good hitters we have. Can’t make this team completely unwatchable.

    1. CubFan Paul

      Dominic Brown can step right in (LF…maybe CF?) and help the near and long term as a corner power bat…If that deal happens.

      Sounds like Theo&Co has the leverage since Philly doesn’t want to go over $189M (all other outside options cost more than Sori (2yrs/$10M))

      1. Westbound Willie

        I still can’t believe anybody thinks there is any team in baseball that would have interest in soriano at any price. He’s a loser.

        1. BWA

          How can you not see value in a player who hit 30 HR, 100 RBI, and had 0 errors last season? He is good for 25+ HR and that doesn’t make him a loser

        2. Pat

          His age, and not his production, is why teams are wary of him. Plenty of teams would take him at some price. However, I will agree that I just don’t see anyone offering anything of real value for a guy whose best case scenario is two years of pretty good production. Assuming they would eat all but 10 mil in salary, I think the realistic return would be a low level B prospect or a B-/C+ upper level prospect.

        3. baldtaxguy

          I still can’t believe anyone thinks that every team in baseball would have zero interest in Soriano at any price.