alfonso soriano hitting[See the Updates below. The deal is official.]

The obligatory preface: considering his age (37), offensive decline (102 OPS+ this year, despite the crazy hot streak), his contract ($18 million this and next year), and his no-trade rights, the return on an Alfonso Soriano deal was never going to be fantastic. That said, the Cubs were not going to trade him just to trade him, and it was fair to assume that they would extract some value for Soriano, if they decided to move him (in addition to the bonus value of the opened up outfield spot and the opportunity to give Soriano a chance to win).

If the early rumors this morning are correct, it sounds like the Cubs are going to get some value for Soriano, who has already said his goodbyes and headed off to New York.

First, on the money side, the range of dollars the Cubs will be saving on the $25 million Soriano is owed is somewhere between $7 and $12 million (Jon Heyman says $7 to $8 million, Joel Sherman says $8 to $12 million; Heyman explicitly says it’s under $10 million, though). The Yankees were always going to try and have the Cubs pay as close to $18 million as possible (Soriano’s full 2014 salary) for luxury tax purposes. Mentally, I’d prepared myself for about $7 million in savings, so anything over that is a win.

On the prospect side, the consensus seems to be that the Cubs had three, lower-level pitching prospects to choose from. Bruce Levine describes the three possible pitching prospects as top 20 in the Yankees’ system, but not top 10. Once again, generally speaking, that sounds great, given the limitations enumerated in the first paragraph of this post.

Two of the three names appear to be High-A starter Corey Black (rumored last night) and AA reliever Tommy Kahnle, per Jon Heyman. Each is a guy with great stuff but control/command issues. Black is 21 (soon to be 22), and Kahnle is 23. Pre-season, John Sickels ranked Black 12th in the Yankees system (and probably falling a bit from there), and Kahnle was just outside the top 20.

Getting a guy you can dream on as a future contributing reliever – hard thrower, huge strikeout rate, but flawed – is a nice return for Soriano at this stage in the game. Combine that with significant cost savings, roster turnover, and helping out Soriano? I like where this is going.

But we’ll see.

UPDATE: Buster Olney reports the financial side like this: “Soriano is owed about $24.5m through ’14. CHC are going to pick up about $17.7m. NYY will pick up about $6.8m of that, including $5m in ’14.” So, $7 million in savings would be on the low end of what you’d hope for, but nothing to bat an eye at. The surprising part would be the Yankees picking up $5 million in 2014 – that counts against the luxury tax cap. I wonder if the Cubs preferred not to cover the whole thing next year? The financial side of this deal is extremely complicated, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s hard to describe in a single tweet exactly how it’s all playing out, and how much the Cubs really “save.”

UPDATE 2 (8:05am CT): Jim Bowden is reporting that the Commissioner’s Office has approved the trade and it is now official. We’ll still wait for word from the teams. We also still need official word on what the Cubs are getting.

UPDATE 3 (8:26am CT): Jon Heyman counters Bowden with an, “um, no it’s not.” Heyman believes it’ll be approved soon, but says it hasn’t been yet.

UPDATE 4 (9:48am CT): While we await formal, final, official confirmation, and the official identification of the Cubs’ return, Nick Cafardo drops this bomb, which Buster Olney hinted yesterday: the only team Soriano would accept a trade to is the Yankees. If true, then you’ve got to feel even better about the return the Cubs were able to get. That said, I suspect we’re going to hear some folks refuting Cafardo’s report on this point.

UPDATE 5 (10:00am CT): Joel Sherman reports it is indeed Corey Black coming to the Cubs.

UPDATE 6 (10:54am CT): Well, the deal still hasn’t officially been announced, but, everyone seems to agree it’s Soriano to the Yankees for Corey Black, with the Yankees taking on $5 million per year for Soriano (prorated this year to $1.8 million), for a total cash savings to the Cubs of $6.8 million. John Sickels has a quick take on Black, who sounds like a legit pitching prospect, albeit one with some size and control issues. Here’s a snippet:

Born on August 4, 1991, Black isn’t a big guy, standing 5-11, listed at 175. As you would expect from a former shortstop, he is a very good athlete and has plenty of arm strength: he’s been clocked as high as 100 MPH in short stints and works in the mid-90s as a starter. He has a curveball, slider, and changeup. Although none of his secondary pitches are considered outstanding, they off-set the fastball well when his command is on. His mechanics aren’t the smoothest and his command is inconsistent, but he picks up strikeouts at a good clip.

If he throws strikes and makes further progress with his secondaries, Black can start at higher levels. If that doesn’t work out, his arm would still look good in the bullpen.

This is a good deal for everyone.

UPDATE 7 (3:40pm CT): The deal is officially official. Welcome, Corey Black. Farewell, Alfonso Soriano.

  • Jp3

    Giggity ggiggity

  • ssckelley

    Good return, this is another small step forward for the overall strength of the Cubs farm system. The pitching depth just got better, which is a need.

    Curious if anyone is hearing any rumors of international pool money being involved?

    • Brett

      The Yanks are tied to one of the 15-year-old studs who can’t sign until next month, and they don’t have a ton of international money to begin with, so I doubt it.

      • ssckelley


      • Josh t

        Seems like chances r we won’t be able to require much IFA slot money

        • Josh t

          Any chance we take this $7mil sori contract savings and blow up the IFA budget even more? Sign Luis Encarnacion, Anderson Franco both are top ranked IFA’s who are to young to sign but are elgible to sign in the next 3 weeks after they turn 16. Or even sign Jen-Ho Tseng who we were heavily rumored with. Sign these guys and just absolutely go crazy signing IFA’s bc were going to get the max penalties next year anyways. Use the $7mil sori saving to good use

          • praying the cubs get ready to win

            I hope they do then it’s like getting Black and a few international players for Soriano, which makes this a great trade even though, Soriano really did produce, maybe not for $18 million.

  • Josh t

    Better prospect: Ivan Pineyro (Hairston trade) or Corey Black/tommy kahnle (Sori trade; we also eat $18mil of sori’s contract)?

    IMO Ivan Pineryo is a better prospect then either bc he has the chance to stick in the rotation. Hard to believe we probably got a better prospect for Scott Hairston then we probably did for sori when we ate $18mil

    • Brett

      Pretty sure it’ll be Pineyro, though he and Black are probably pretty close.

      Let me put it to you this way: would you rather have Hairston for a couple million through 2014, or would you rather have Soriano for $8 million through 2014? I can see why Hairston may have netted slightly more.

      • Josh t

        I think Black is pretty solid bc he has a cannon for an arm, so if we eventually move him to the pen and he can lower BB then we got a pretty power arm reliever. Plus we saved $8mil in payroll, so not a bad deal

    • MichiganGoat

      Who knows but we must realize the odd that any of these players make it to MLB success is very low, for the Soriano trade as being btwn 7-10M is the real value and the open OF spot.

      • Nate

        I’m not so sure. It sounds like Kahnle is close now. He may not make it but if he’s the guy it could be a huge help to the pen

      • ssckelley

        I agree, we keep hearing the term “lottery ticket” being thrown around here and that is basically what the Cubs are getting here (more so with Black). IMO Black seems to be a high ceiling kinda guy with a low floor, while Kahnle has a higher floor but low ceiling. I can see Kahnle competing for a bullpen spot as early as next spring while it will be awhile before we see Black, if ever.

        But the real win here is between the Garza deal (including the PTBNL) and this one the Cubs improve their organization depth at pitcher. We may never see any of these pitching prospects reach the majors but this gives the Cubs a better chance of 1 or 2 of them panning out.

      • Cubman23

        My gut says that guys ranked in the top 20 in an organization more often than not make the bigs at some point. For example, i glanced at the Cubs top 20 in 2008 (figured that was far enough back for the players to either make it or bust) and over half had a cup of coffee. Anyone have data on that?

    • CubsFaninMS

      Ivan Pineyro has been impressive thus far.

  • Fishin Phil

    Sounds pretty fair to both sides. Damn, I hate being fair to the Yankees!

  • TonyS

    When you put it like that Brett we should be happy with what we get in a Sori trade. Any idea when the Garza PTBNL will be known?

  • CubFan Paul

    Disappointing return if true. That’s a lot of money to shell out on a non impact prospects.

    I’ve been saying along that Theo&Co would have to pay all but $2M (veteran minimum) for a return better than this.

  • Mr. Mac

    I was at the game against the Pirates when Coach Q brought the Stanley Cup out, and we sat across the aisle form Soriano’s family. It was neat seeing him come out of the dugout, and look directly for them so he could wave. The kids were all happy, waving, and yelling “daddy!” When he hit his two home runs my immediate reaction was to look at his kids, and they were extremely excited, and jumping up and down. Each time he pointed to them before heading into the dugout. In a way that humanized Soriano for me, and made him less of a bad contract who refused a trade last year to more of a guy whose kids have probably never seen him play for anyone except the Cubs. I understood why leaving would be hard on him for more than just baseball reasons. Anyway, good luck to Sori, and his family.

    • MoneyBoy

      Thanks Mr. Mac, that was a great remembrance and nice of you to add it as a comment!!

      • Mr. Mac

        Thank you, MoneyBoy.

  • Nate

    I read a couple quick reviews that Kahnle had taken a step forward last year with his control. He was an all star this year and there has been a lot of talk about him making the Yankees bullpen by the end of the year. Is all this correct that would be a huge return.

    I don’t think another back of the rotation guy is helping. If we get a few young good pen guys that stick for 5 years things look pretty good. The position prospects are coming fast and there will be money and tradable pieces to get a good rotation (plus a Shark and Wood). This deal is awesome.

    • davidalanu

      Re: Kahnle, he’s been pretty unhittable in AA, with over 10K/9, but 6BB/9. Man, that sounds like somebody else we used to see!

    • BD

      I’m with you on this one. It also sounds like he is much closer to being ready for the show.

  • Sweet Swinging 26

    Between Black and Kahnle, I’d prefer Kahnle. While Black has the chance to start, his WHIP and 14 wild pitches are enough for me to go with the reliever in Kahnle. Both look to have good arms and a decent return on Soriano.

    • CubsFaninMS

      Black’s scouting report mentions a violent “whipping” motion in his delivery that sounds a little worrisome.

      • Cubman23

        If you watch video of Black the violent motion comes from his head during his follow-through. He needs some work.

  • Cubbie in NC

    Any truth to the rumor that Theo rejected the Yankees throwing A-Rod in??

    • Jp3

      I’m sure that was a good joke with Cashman saying hey Jed, you want ARod for free??? And he probably couldn’t say it without laughing

  • Feeney

    Bad timing for Josh Vitters to go down with another injury. He needs to get as many reps in left as possible.

    • On The Farm

      You’re joking, he got hurt again? What is it this time?

      • Feeney

        I think I read on twitter he tweaked his hammy and it out for a week or two.

        • ssckelley

          Wow, only a week or 2? This is great news if true as he was helped off the field when it happened. They said he stopped running inbetween 1st and 2nd ended up getting tagged out.

      • Feeney

        If the plan is for Vitters to play left field at some point in the bigs, to see if he can hit in the majors, then he needs reps. I think he had 2 games in left before the injury.

        • On The Farm

          I kind of wonder what would have been if he wouldn’t have ran into all these injuries in his career. Another week and a half is going to put us into August and we really need to see what he can do *this* year.

        • Jp3

          I didn’t read too much into it but BN posters that have seen Vitters in either Arizona or Iowa recently said he looked in aweful shape. No idea and just speculating but being in bad shape probably isn’t helpful to his hammy.

  • JM

    You mentioned three potential names. Did i miss the third?

    • Brett

      Not reported.

  • Eternal Pessimist

    Neither excited or disappointed about this trade. Is Soriano worth about 4 million/year (about what the Yankees are paying on prorated basis), plus a prospect with some major league potential? Yeah, sounds about right.

  • Justin

    Gonna miss Soriano. I’ve seen so many times to not be mad at him for what he did here, but be mad at the contract. Soriano at times WAS our offense, especially this year hitting 10 homers in his last 21 games. He was a great leader and a great person, and he truly, truly wanted to win in Chicago. I hate the Yankees with all my heart, but I would like to see Fonzi get a ring.

  • deej34

    Brett – I’m sure there are too many hypotheticals, but what if Sori didn’t have a no trade clause and had an average salary? What kind of return would a player with his numbers this year, under control for next year get? Just wondering

    • Brett

      Slightly better pitching prospect, but not much better. He’s still 37 and in obvious decline (not that I mean that as a shot – he’s still useful and a quality teammate).

    • wvcubsfan

      Can we please stop with the no trade clause? He had 10/5 rights, not a no trade clause.

      I do have a question regarding this, and maybe Brett knows the answer. Do the years that Sori spent as a Yankee at the beginning of his career contribute to the “5” part of the 10/5 rights? Will he maintain those rights again since he was traded to the Yankees and not another team?

      • TonyP

        No, I believe it is consecutive years….

  • Frank

    He’s reunited with Hendry now.

  • lukers63

    Love the update & time in the main heading! That way when I keep F5’ing all morning/day, I don’t have to open the story and can pretend to get back to work.

    • Jp3

      Yeah I love the new update time stamp for headlines like this. I know when I need to click on it again for another update. Got a feeling he could use it a lot in a few days… Even if there aren’t a lot of trades there will still be a ton of rumors he can use it for. I’m sure there will be rumors in the 11th hour that teams will be inquiring about someone like Castro or Shark that he’ll have to update frantically. I seriously doubt anymore big trades will happen but that won’t stop the rumor mill.

  • JM

    I’m addicted to this site.

    • MichiganGoat

      It’s is the best drug around

  • Good Captain

    To your knowledge Brett, would either or both Black and Kahnle be Rule 5 eligible next year thereby “requiring” a roster spot (assuming the Cubs viewed that as a reasonably high risk)?

    Thanks for your tiring but tireless coverage!

    • Beer Baron

      I know Black would for sure not be – he was just drafted in 2012 and you get 4 years before hitting that deadline (5 if player is under 19 when signed). Kahnle was drafted in 2010 so he probably will be Rule 5 eligible this year depending on when he signed.

  • Good Captain

    Btw, I meant that your coverage must tire you but that you still keep plugging. W/ 2 little ones around, I know that’s difficult.

  • Rcleven

    Not too happy to see this trade. All it is is a house cleaning move. Don’t see how this makes the Cubs better. All it does is make the Cubs a younger team. It doesn’t help the offense that struggles. To pay a RBI producer to play for another team and get so little in return? To me it’s just a move to open a roster spot.

    • Feeney

      “An rbi producer”? Really? Sori is a 0.7WAR player this season for the Cubs. For reference, that’s less than Ryan Sweeney’s 0.8WAR in 44 games. It doesn’t make the Cubs better. But it doesn’t make them that much worse.

      • Rcleven

        At .7 war (at Approx. 5M=1.0) Yankee just got a deal.
        Al coming off the bench for 3.4 M is a steal.
        If your going to eat that much of his salary I would think I want a better return.
        Ya it opens up a spot for for the kids to play but it still feels like a dump.

        “It doesn’t make them worse”
        It doesn’t make any better either. Thus my dump reasoning. The goal is to get better.

        • Hansman1982

          It’s not a question of what Soriano can do for the Cubs this year, it’s the likelihood of him doing something for the Cubs next year. The money isn’t as important for the Cubs as that 25-man slot is. Theo shouldn’t have much issue finding someone who will produce just as well as Soriano can next year, especially considering he will probably be close to a replacement level player next year.

          • CubsFaninMS

            They are hoping that Olt’s power matures into the big leagues to replace Soriano’s. Let’s cross our fingers and hope.

          • D.G.Lang

            I suspect that the FO may also have considered Alf’s slow starts every year and how that contributes to the Cubs slow starts placing them in a losing mode from the very beginning of the season and may have had thoughts that replacing him with someone who potentially might be better in the cold weather at the beginning of the season would help avoid the slow starts.

            I am not blasting Soriano either, just realizing that someone who has knee and leg problems really can’t perform as well in cold and damp weather as someone who isn’t hampered by those problems.

            I personally have had three major operations on my left knee and some days it really hurts depending on the temperature or humidity and even on whether or not there is either a high or low pressure area involved.

            Even changes from one pressure range to another triggers much discomfort.

        • Rebuilding

          With the season 2/3 of the way over Soriano is on pace to produce 0.3-0.4 WAR the rest of the season so that’s worth about $2mil. The Yankees are overpaying him by about $1.5 mil this year which prob washes out to even next year if he stays healthy. So the Cubs save $7mil that can be used elsewhere, arguably get better with who replaces him, give him a chance to compete for a championship, and turn the page to a new era. What’s not to like?

    • Ben

      Which is exactly what you need to do. Lake needs to play every day to determine if he can be counted on next year or not. This move allows that to happen.

      Getting a decent relief prospect and 7 million bucks? Not an awful deal.

      • Ivy Walls

        People still look through the game from the perspective of a sportswriter and not through the lens of the numbers.

        What makes MLB so penetrating is that its 162 game schedule creates a sample size that is predominate. Last night Wittenmyer tweeted that Gregg’s value was diminishing while Schierholtz’s was increasing due to post ASB numbers.

        I challenged to no reply, did he have quotes or merely his own amateur conjecture.

        Gregg’s value might be diminishing for a number of reasons, market value or velocity or that teams have figured out how he has been fooling him but the reality is that Gregg;s value was pretty much locked in because of his long term numbers…WAR 0.1

        while Schierholtz maybe hot right now, but his WAR is 1.9

        • YourResidentJag

          That or people look at the game through the eyes of the still traditional GM who won’t trade for Gregg because they’re focusing on the wrong items. Therefore, the sportswriter picks it up through his sources and reports it.

      • Rcleven

        No. It not an awful deal. It just does not make the Cubs better.

    • Jon

      It’s possible that money saved (7-8 million) can help the Cubs land Choo or Elsbury as a FA this offseason, so yes, it makes the Cubs better shorter and longer term.

      • Rcleven

        The current Cub outfielders can not stay healthy and there is no one in the minors to pick up Al’s production. It (the trade) does not make the Cubs better short term.
        It only gives you a look at what might be in the future.
        Elsbury will not be had for 6.8 M. Choo either.
        Money will spent on a couple more fringe outfielders(like Schierholtz) who don’t fit another organizations needs but are still productive ball players.

  • Ed

    Jim Bowden is the worst resource ever!

  • mjhurdle

    Soriano was a class-act as a player here with the Cubs. He took the criticism from the fans (partly deserved, partly over-blown due to the contract) as a professional.
    I will miss him, and his crazy hot streaks. he wasn’t the best defender, but watching him hit when things were going well was something i will always remember.

    Farewell Spider-Sori

    • mjhurdle


  • jptopdog

    per Jesse Sanchez Tseng signs with Cubs for 1.625 mil., Eloy next week

  • Fastball

    If I was Cashman I would eat A-Rods contract and trade him to the Cubs. The Yankees don’t seem to have the balls to just fire the guy. Send him to us and let Theo take credit for waking the guy. I like the idea of Cubs ending A-Rods career. Maybe we can get back on the right side of some of these Curses that have been laid down on us over the years. Wacking A-Rod would surely make the Cubbies Good with the Baseball Gods.

  • Fastball

    Bowden and Olney are damned sure to be wrong most everytime. I think there sources lie to them on purpose just to make them look stupid. Hate listening to most all of these guys. If I was a source I would tell them damned near anything then sit back and watch them make fools out of themselves. Oh, They already are doing that.

  • DarthHater

    With all the trades getting done early, it’s starting to look like Brett will be able to sleep at the keyboard during the blog-a-thon and nobody will even notice

  • Spencer

    I guess I never really thought of the Cubs at a team that absolutely has to save money at the fringes, but we’ve seen some deals this year where that’s the case. Maybe the Cubs aren’t as financially sound as everyone thinks.

    • DarthHater

      Who says that saving some money at the fringe is something that’s only worth doing if you absolutely have to? Maybe this was just a deal that the FO felt they wanted to make in light of all the relevant circumstances–including but not limited to saving some money.

      • hansman1982

        There are many reasons to trade Soriano:

        1. Free up the roster slot for someone who will be more likely to outproduce him.
        2. Obtain something back (and not a bad return (I think Sickels said he is a decent prospect)
        3. Free up some money
        4. Do good by an aging player

        Soriano is going to be 38 next year, the odds on him being above replacement level are incredibly small.

        • Bric

          Also, continue to move on from the Hendry years. He’s about the last one I can think of other than maybe Russell.

          • Myles


  • Jay

    The Yankees get Soriano for a year and half and only have to pay 7 mil (or so) for him over all that time and all we get back is some dude in A ball? No other team would beat that? Wow. I’m sure Theo and Jed know what they’re doing, but still seems weird. It would be different if he was just a rental for this year (ala Garza) but they have him for next year too at (relative) peanuts.

    • nkniacc13

      Soriano would only go to the Yanks apparently

  • North Side Irish

    Sickels posted a more detailed report on Black, with video…says he thinks the Cubs did well.