While we watch the Cubs first base situation unfold and while I wait for the Rule 5 Draft, there are some other potential trades to think about. For instance, take a look at the Cubs outfield. Assuming the Cubs find a first baseman (and they might have two by the time this is posted Wednesday morning), then Colvin is locked into right field. Marlon Byrd looks pretty well entrenched in center, and Soriano is thought to be unmovable in left. But with Brett Jackson leading a handful of outfielders out of the Cubs minor league system, the Cubs need to find at bats in the outfield, and I don’t think they want to wait until 2012 or 2015 to do so.
So how can the Cubs give themselves room to try Jackson, Brandon Guyer, and others? I think there is one ideal answer. I think they have to trade Soriano.
If anyone can trade Soriano, it is Jim Hendry, and unlike much of baseball I think he is tradeable given the right situation. The easiest deal would be to swap a bad contract for a bad contract, similar to the Milton Bradley trade. So, who is out there that has a bad contract that the Cubs would be willing to take?
How about a guy who threw 199 innings last season, with a K/BB ratio of 1.79 while giving up 0.9 HR/9? Oh, and he’s a left handed pitcher signed through 2013, unless he averages 200 innings a year for the next three years, in which case his 2014 option vests. I should add that he hasn’t pitched 200 innings or more since 2006.
Of course I’m talking about Barry Zito.
The Giants outfield depth chart is not impressive. Soriano should be an offensive upgrade in left, even with his less than impressive Cubs numbers. What’s more, while the Giants offense wasn’t bad in 2010, it was only 10th in the majors in home runs. Worse, the Giants were third in their own division in that catagory. And as far as the Giants pitching goes, Zito is somewhat of a spare part. He was left off the postseason roster for a reason. From a strictly baseball standpoint, he is moveable.
And from a strictly baseball standpoint, the trade makes sense. The Cubs need a pitcher, preferably left handed, to eat innings, and the Giants could use another bat. The contracts just about cancel out, except for the chance that Zito’s contract could be bought out in three years.
Would Zito agree to a trade? Who knows. But the Cubs would need him whereas the Giants don’t. Soriano probably wouldn’t be heartbroken over going to a World Series champion and playing his home games in ATT Park with its shorter distance to left. Both Soriano and Zito are under the weight of their contracts today. After a trade, that would be lessened. In Chicago Zito would not be the Huge Contract Guy, he’d be The Guy That Made Soriano’s Contract Go Away. Sometimes a change of scenery can make a world of difference.
Nothing is impossible, and the Cubs do need at bats in the outfield. Fukudome is the easier trade, but I think Soriano works better for the Cubs. I know of no rumors to this effect, nor would I want to start one. But if there is a GM in baseball who could pull this sort of a deal off, it would be Jim Hendry. It will never happen, but it would solve some problems if it did.