When I first heard the suggestion that the Cubs should trade Soriano, I let out a big guffaw. No way, I thought. Who's going to want to take on that kind of contract? Now with word out that the Cubs are willing to pay "a high percentage" of Alfonso Soriano's salary the idea doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore. There are multiple teams out there looking for a hitter. With Houston's reportedly prohibitive asking price for Hunter Pence and Aramis Ramirez not willing to budge yet on his no trade clause, teams don't have a lot of choices. There's Carlos Beltran and perhaps Melky Cabrera, who's having a career year, then there's....well, not much. Some of the names being thrown about are BJ Upton, Ryan Ludwick, Jeff Francouer, and Johnny Gomes --not exactly muderer's row.
Let's compare the players side by side
BJ Upton: .234/.316/.407
Ryan Ludwick: .244/.309/.384
Jeff Francouer .264/.310/.448
Jonny Gomes .215/.338/.407
Alfonso Soriano .249/.291/.445
Of this group, the highest isolated power belongs to Gomes and Soriano, even though Soriano has slumped. ZIPS projects the Cubs slugger with the highest ISO% in this group for the rest of the season. And even though Gomes has a respectable OBP of .338, if you're looking for a hitter, do you really want a guy who hits .215 as the "hitter" to put you over the top? Granted, in his defense, his BABIP is a pretty low .259 and you should expect that average to go up by year's end.
Jeff Franceour has better slash numbers than Soriano at this point, and BJ Upton is the best runner...so they have an edge on Soriano in that respect but really, of any of these guys on the list above, who is the one guy who is capable of putting his team on his back for a stretch and making the biggest impact? It's Soriano. As a bat, I see him as the only real potential difference maker of the group. From what we've seen in April, he's still capable of being a dominant player for short stretches.
Then you have to think about the team most interested in Soriano, the Yankees. Soriano has been there before -- the pennant races, the playoffs. He's played under that intense pressure in NY and thrived.
If he goes to the AL to DH as expected if a trade happens, the only hang up with Soriano is salary. If the Cubs are willing to pay a high percentage of that then that eliminates that worry as well. What's more, the Cubs won't ask for as much in return in terms of players. He'll be cheaper in that respect than Beltran, Cabrera, Upton, and even Franceour.
For the Cubs this is about ridding themselves of a major roadblock. Forget salary, that's a sunk cost at this point. The biggest benefit to trading Soriano won't be saving a lot of money, or the player they get back, it's about allowing the Cubs to trot out a younger, more athletic, better defensive player in the outfield next year and for the years to come...whether that player turns out to be Tyler Colvin, Brett Jackson, or whomever remains to be seen -- but whoever he is, he needs to play and the Cubs can't afford to have Soriano lurking in the shadows.
Filed under: Uncategorized