Alfonso Soriano has drawn a lot of attention this off-season in light of his 2012 performance.
Not that any of this press is overtly bad – Soriano had a fantastic 2012 posting a 4.0 WAR and only committing 1 error on the season. Frankly, he was the most effective Cubs’ player for the majority of the season.
But with the winter meetings in full swing and the Cubs’ desire to unload is massive $18 million/year (until 2014) contract in public view, it begs the question of how much value can the Cubs expect to gain from a potential trade?
There are essentially two schools of thought on the situation:
- Soriano is a financial burden on the team as of right now and must be traded in order to alleviate salary.
- Soriano is worth keeping despite his price because of his experience, work ethic and performance.
While both these ideas are correct in principle, they’re in direct contradiction of one and other. It makes for a sticky situation.
So what will it take to make a deal work that sees Soriano and his contract leave Chicago in exchange for decent players? A straight up deal is far from likely considering the types of players the Cubs are pursuing. The only answer is if the Cubs agree to buy out a huge portion of Soriano’s contract.
Should Soriano be appealing to other teams, his age and his current deal would kill any interest. His price is far too high considering his performance and most teams wouldn’t part ways with any significant prospects in a trade centered around Soriano. This essentially kills any potential ideal return the Cubs may have in mind when shopping him around.
The Cubs, being a fairly rich team, can afford to keep him on for the duration of his contract without any real problems and bank on his HR production, solid fielding and leadership skills in the clubhouse. It’s certainly not the worst fate in the world despite the large dollar figures. Soriano was effective enough last season to have an impact on the team. Is it something that is included in their plans for a rebuild? Not at all, but it may be a reality that Cubs’ fans will have to accept in the short term.
Is Soriano worth trading? It all depends on the return and how much cash the Cubs will have to eat. Any team willing to take him on wouldn’t provide much compensation for the Cubs, so it may be more worth while to just keep him, ride out the contract and bank on his half decent production.
Keep in mind the market for his services isn’t hot by any means, so it will take some serious wheeling and dealing on the Cubs’ end in order to sell Soriano’s stock.