T.G.I.O. Thank God it's the offseason. I don't know about the rest of you, but these past two years, I have not been able to watch much of the rest of the post-season. I used to enjoy the World Series no matter who was in it, but with the Cubs being swept out these past two years... blech. I'm glad 2008 is in the books and we can look to 2009 fully. It's time now to focus on Jim Hendry starting the 2009 run to the championship. One of the big questions towards that end is - can Soriano be traded and would the Cubs try?
Maybe. What the Cubs would probably want to do is find the teams bidding on Manny and offer Soriano as an alternative. He's younger. He offers the big RH bat. He also offers speed. Soriano's contract may not look that bad compared to what people may offer on Manny. The tricky part is that we probably won't get much back, unless we take a bad contract ourselves. And Soriano may not waive his NTC if he gets word he might be traded for a package of no-names.
So, the idea is you take on a bad contract and you get a useful cheap rookie or two as the kicker. Here are some contracts we might consider taking on:
Angels: OF Gary Matthews, Jr. 3yrs/33M - It used to be you could say, "Matthews is a glorified 4th OF." But last year, he wasn't even that good. Maybe he'd be a good 4th OF to have as a backup for Dome going into '09. Probably not Soriano is the kind of player the Angels like and they have too many SSs - we should be able to get one put into a deal for Soriano, and probably more if we take this atrocious contract. Despite the contract being bad, Matthews is a former All-Star, so a trade like this is something Soriano might be willing to accept. We'd just have to get some really nice young pieces in return.
Dodgers: CF Andruw Jones 1yr/15M and/or SP Jason Schmidt 1yr/12M - taking on either of these contracts severely hampers your 2009 budget because you can't count on getting anything out of either. Jones makes a little sense, though. Bring in Jones and Dome and let them push each other for the CF job. Maybe they settle into a platoon - maybe one wins outright, maybe both are productive and you have a great problem on your hands. Surely Andruw would have some desire to get another fat contract. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have all sorts of goodies in their farm system Ned Colletti can't wait to trade. Or maybe we could even get Jones and Ethier for Soriano?
Mariners: C Kenji Johjima 3yrs/24M - that's a lot to pay for a backup C. Seattle thinks so, too. The M's have a younger C in Jeff Clement and the new GM has to be shaking his head at Johjima's crazy deal. If we take Johjima, giving the M's a new star, maybe we could get something else good back from them. Probably not Brandon Morrow good, but something.
Mets: 2B Luis Castillo 3yrs/18M - This is a bad contract, but it is also the kind of contract you can swallow when you're the Mets or the Cubs. Either way, the Mets want him gone and they want the page turned. The Cubs, meanwhile, are looking for switch-hitters with speed. Castillo revived his speed game in 2008, and managed a .355 OBP with a career-low .245 AVG. Castillo's defense is an issue and we've already got two 2B who would be better. That said, Castillo could have a productive part-time role on the Cubs if Fontenot were to be traded and DeRosa continues to utiliwander. Maybe the Cubs could work a deal where they send Soriano over and get back Castillo and some other valuable pieces - perhaps including Ryan Church. The Mets are also one team that might take Soriano without forcing us to take a bad contract back.
I'm not willing to even consider the Zito or Juan Pierre contracts.
A couple other teams might be interested - the Giants are flush in the OF, but we could take back one or more of their OFs. The Reds might actually be interested.
All this said, I think Soriano's a valuable member of the team. I don't think the Cubs should just dump him. The reason I'd consider trading him is 1) for the return but 2) because you can replace him with a much better contract and much better lineup fit in Adam Dunn right now.