We’ve seen this before and we’re likely going to see it again: the trade talks between the Philadelphia Phillies and Alfonso Soriano are heating up.
And I use the term “heating up” very loosely.
This isn’t exactly a breaking story as the Phillies have been known to be in the market for a corner OF with a strong right-handed bat this offseason. Soriano matches that profile almost perfectly hitting over 30 HR last season and committing only 1 error in 151 games. While this supposed match has been well known for a while and this story has been on “slow simmer” mode for a long time, it seems to be now gaining some traction.
Jim Bowden, ESPN baseball analyst and co-host of the SiriusXM program “Inside Pitch” had reported that the Cubs and Phillies had a deal tabled for Soriano on Friday night. This may have been in place for quite some time now as teams tend to explore all possible options when it comes to making deals despite the fact that the vast majority never come to fruition.
Despite a deal being on the table (for what ever length of time is has been present,) Bowden is reporting that the Phillies are waiting for free agent OF Michael Bourn to sign in order to pull the trigger on any deal involving Soriano and the Cubs. This isn’t because the Phillies are necessarily in on the Bourn talks, but they want to see how much he will sign for as his contract will impact the overall OF market and Soriano’s price along with it.
Put simply? The Phillies don’t want to overpay and they’re happy to use Bourn as a test market.
The Cubs have also expressed some interest in Bourn’s services which adds another layer of complexity to the entire situation, but then again, the Cubs have an interest in just about anyone with two legs and a glove as of right now.
How much should we invest in these rumors? While the Soriano/Phillies swap makes sense on paper as has made sense for quite some time now, I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one. Soriano is not the only OF on the market and the Phillies will be looking at other options to gain leverage on any potential deal. If the Phillies felt any sort of desperation to obtain Soriano because of outside pressures from other teams for example, they would have initiated a trade long ago.
It also begs the question: should the Cubs really be looking to shop Soriano at this point? Will the market remain hot enough for the Cubs to gain a substantial return despite their requirement to eat a large portion of Soriano’s contract? Is his relative value to the team greater than what his numbers indicate? It all has to be kept in mind, not to mention the fact that the Cubs will have to fill the void that Soriano leaves in left field before opening day.
It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out. Eptein and Hoyer might have to get crafty on this one and take a solid look at what kind of value Soriano has to the team not only on the field, but off the field as well.