The Cubs have had a fairly active offseason and Alfonso Soriano’s name came up in more than one trade rumor. Soriano has had his struggles, but one must wonder if the return the Cubs would get from him would be worth the salary they would have to eat. There are always pros and cons.
Let’s start with pros. Soriano is a decent hitter. He is still capable of 25+ home runs and possibly even 30 on top of 85+ RBI. This is the type of hitter that can still be slotted in the six spot in the order. He is a very productive hitter and has value to any lineup.
He has a wins above replacement (WAR) of 1.3. This means that Soriano is still a more productive player than the average replacement level player.
In addition, he is a great clubhouse guy. He is more vocal in the clubhouse than most of us see. Soriano is helping players like Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney get acclimated to the Major League level. This type of leadership is invaluable to the future of the Cubs, especially given Castro’s mental issues in the field.
Soriano was the guy who stepped up to tell Carlos Zambrano how out of line he was. Soriano has even embraced the Cubs new direction and embraced his role as a leader. Soriano brings an optimistic attitude into the locker room, saying, ‘‘the last couple of years, we had a nice group, but some people didn’t give you 100 percent. This group is young, and they’re hungry to play. We’re here to compete.’’ I love this attitude out of him. I think this is where Soriano adds the most value to any team.
Now on to the cons. Soriano’s defense has clearly left him. He has never been a Gold Glove caliber defender, but he has gotten to the point where he is a big defensive liability. He had the worst defensive year of any left fielder last year, leading the league in errors with 7. He does not seem fit to play in the field anymore.
At the plate, Soriano is a good hitter, but he strikes out about 20% of the time. This number is too high for any player. Pitchers know they can throw that slider to the dirt low and outside and Soriano has a hard time holding off. This also means that he does not walk that much and on a team that needs to go station to station, this does not bode well.
If Soriano were making $4 million a year then we would not even be having this conversation, but he is not. Soriano makes $19 million this year, which is about 1/6th of the total payroll.
If the Cubs find a suitor for Soriano, you can bet they will think about all of these things. The team will probably have to be in the American League because Soriano should really be moved to DH. I think there are many obstacles to a potential trade. The Cubs will have to eat a lot of that salary in order to move him and they might not get much back.
If the Cubs are able to find a team desperate for a hitter and willing to give up value like the Cubs got for Zambrano, then it is worth it; but if they can’t they probably should just hang on to him until Brett Jackson is ready to come up to the big leagues. I think the Cubs will dump him in mid-June when they call up Jackson to an American League team who needs a hitter due to injury.
I root for Soriano and I like what he does in the locker room. I really like him if I ignore his salary, but $19 million is hard to ignore.