Word broke last night, and the official transaction came through today: the Chicago Cubs have added reliever Rafael Soriano to the 25-man and 40-man rosters, and, to open up those spots, have designated Edwin Jackson for assignment.
With 10 days to trade, waive, or release Jackson, it’s conceivable that the Cubs will find a trade partner by July 30. Don’t get too excited, though: with middling results and a contract that pays him $11 million this season and next season, the best possible trade return for Jackson is a couple million bucks in salary relief. The most likely outcome, however, is that we’ll eventually learn that Jackson was released. He’ll look to sign on with another team, and the Cubs might eventually save a pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum this year and again next year if he’s on a big league team.
Soriano, 35, signed a minor league deal ($4.1 million big league split, of which he’ll get a pro-rated portion when in the big leagues) with the Cubs back in early June, after not finding the market for his services to be particularly robust. Eventually, Soriano changed agents (he’d been with Scott Boras), signed with the Cubs, and has been working his way back to the big leagues/getting his arm ready since. He carved up minor league competition in recent weeks, as you’d expect him to. The velocity appears to be fairly normal for him – 91 to 94mph – and we’ll see if the breaking pitches fool big league hitters.
There’s a reason Soriano went unsigned for so long, and a reason he lost his closer job in Washington last year. Hopefully he figured things out and can become an important piece of the Cubs’ bullpen down the stretch. Temper your expectations, though: he’s not likely to be the guy he was with the Yankees, Braves, and Rays. Instead, the hope is that he’ll be a quality middle-to-late-inning reliever, giving the Cubs an abundance of those options, and coverage in case of injury or ineffectiveness by someone else. Because much of Soriano’s compensation is tied to incentives, the downside risk for the Cubs here is limited. The upside, though, is getting a very good, experienced, and steady reliever for relatively little.