According to a report, the Cubs are willing to eat $26 million of the remaining $36 million owed left fielder Alfonso Soriano over the next two seasons, the last of the eight-year, $136 million deal he signed before the 2007 season. The contract includes a full no-trade clause, which Soriano invoked last season when he rejected a trade to the San Francisco Giants, using the negative effect the cold weather would have on his knees. I wasn’t aware the tropic of Chicago was a more appeasing climate. Be that as it may, the “six or seven teams” for whom Soriano says his agent has informed the Cubs he’d waive the clause are on the east coast or in the center of the country and include the Mets. It also includes the Yankees and Phillies, as well as a quick trip to the South Side. So, I guess it’s only cold in San Francisco. But I digress.
Soriano has been mentioned on several occasions as a possible trade target for the Mets in different capacities. He was a change-of-scenery swap at one point for Jason Bay and a plain old salary dump for Chicago at others. But after an off season in which not one veteran was acquired for the outfield, one may have fallen into the Mets lap. Soriano is coming off his best season since 2008. He hit .262/.322/.499 with 32 home runs and played the best left field we’ve seen from him in a long time. You do have to wonder which Soriano will show up in 2013 and even 2014, though. The 2012 Soriano, or the 2009-2012 version that hit .248/.305/.463 and averaged 23 home runs in only 134 games per season and played poor defense.
I would contend that the Mets already have a poor defensive left fielder who’s basement is .248/.305/.463 with 23 home runs (provided he plays every day). He’s also nine years younger and isn’t even arbitration eligible for two more seasons.
What makes Soriano attractive is the possibility that he can put up 2012 numbers again, and from the right side to boot. That’s clearly worth two years and $10 million. I would even explore the possibility of paying the Cubs more in cash and less in prospects, but I have a feeling Soriano’s resurgent 2012 is exactly the leverage Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were looking for and why they chose now to offer to eat a significant portion of the contract.
They are in a rebuilding stage and Soriano’s value is the highest it’s been in three years right now. They’d probably offer to eat all the money if they could get a better prospect(s) out of it. So it looks like $10 million for two years is what it would be. The hitch is that while the Cubs overall farm system isn’t impressive, they are rich in RHP prospects (sound familiar?). And the highest upside lefties the Mets can offer, Jack Leathersich and Juan Urbina, are both very far away and work in relief. The Cubs don’t have anything in the way of catching on the farm, and 2012 draft pick Kevin Pawlecki has since been rendered somewhat obsolete, but again, he can’t offer immediate impact.
This is all supposition because we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before it’s decided who the Mets should ship off for Soriano, it should be decided if he can produce more than Lucas Duda. Despite a very appealing 2012 season, and a bargain if it would only cost $5 million a year, my gut says no. Too much recent history tells the opposite story. Stick with the Dude.