As the whole baseball industry waits for the winner of the Yu Darvish bidding to be announced may I suggest having a bowl of Coco Crisps for breakfast. As if the play of words were not any more obvious, veteran outfielder Coco Crisp appears to be on the Cubs’ radar. After the signing of David DeJesus and the trading away of Tyler Colvin, the Cubs’ outfield picture figured to be set. After the Cubs’ failed attempt to trade left fielder Alfonso Soriano last week at the Winter Meetings, the belief was the Cubs would enter the 2012 season with Soriano, Marlon Byrd, and DeJesus slotted as their starting outfielders. With Colvin no longer on the team, that figured to open up a spot for top prospect Brett Jackson once he makes his ascension to the major league level.
This would be why it comes to much of my surprise to see that the Cubs are interested in Crisp. MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Cubs, in addition to the Los Angeles Dodgers, have had discussions with Crisp about playing left field.
This would seem to be where things get interesting. Reason being that barring a team’s unforeseen change of stance, Soriano and his remaining $54 million do not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. The Cubs have tried feverishly to trade Soriano over the course of the past two seasons and they have found no takers. If the Cubs add Crisp to the picture, what would that mean for Soriano and his future with the organization?
The obvious answer is that the Cubs may be prepared to cut ties with Soriano in any way possible. Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts gave Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer permission to cut any player no matter how much money remains on their contract. In this instance, the Cubs’ front office must be awfully hungry to make Soriano disappear, as the team would be facing a $54 million hit if they decided to release the veteran left fielder. But at this point in the Cubs’ and Soriano’s relationship, that may be the best outcome. Soriano have proven over recent seasons with his declining defensive skills that he is best suited as a designated hitter in the American League. Soriano’s days as an outfielder are far behind him, and the Cubs would be putting themselves at an instant disadvantage if they continue to install Soriano in the lineup as the starting left fielder on a regular basis. At this point the best thing for the Cubs to do with Soriano is cut their ties with the veteran left fielder in spite of the fact that they would be facing a $54 million hit in doing so.
Meanwhile, Crisp is the type of player that Epstein and Hoyer are looking for. Similarly, Crisp falls under the same category of the recent acquisitions of third baseman Ian Stewart and outfielder David DeJesus–who was Crisp’s teammate last season with the Oakland Athletics. Crisp also is familiar with Epstein and Hoyer as he played with the Boston Red Sox from 2006 through 2008. Crisp’s skill-set is all about defense and speed and would figure to improve the Cubs’ athleticism next season. Crisp had a down year with the Athletics last season as he turned in a clip of .264/.314/.379/.693 but his 49 stolen bases were the most of any American League player last season.
While nothing is imminent as of yet with Crisp, if the Cubs add the veteran outfielder to the mix, that in all likelihood would mean that either Soriano or Byrd will not be with team by the time Opening Day 2012 arrives.