One in a series of articles previewing the upcoming trade deadline. Previous entries:
|CHC (6 yrs)||733||3054||33||1||-6||-17||-32||83||63||5.7||.497||.498||7.6||-5.0|
Soriano more or less replaces Shelly Duncan on the roster directly. The problem with that is that in his 2.5 seasons with the Indians, Duncan has been more productive than Soriano, producing 1.3 WAR and 1.8 oWAR. The other problem is that Soriano's ability to punish lefty pitchers has been solid but rather inconsistent. Against LHP, Soriano posted a 569 OPS in 2009, 944 in 2010 and 812 in 2011. This season it's 815. In a split that generally amounts to only 140 PA or so each season, one expects plenty of volatility. The platoon split is one of the most reliable ones in baseball, but what this amounts to is that luck largely will determine whether Soriano crushes lefties for two months or not.
The argument for Duncan is that he's healthier and possibly a better defender in left field at this point (although clearly that is damning with faint praise). The argument for Soriano is essentially the lotto-ticket element — that he might explode with solid productivity for these next two critical months and/or be the more productive player next season. Soriano has won spots on seven All-Star teams; Duncan has never won a starting job in a big-league lineup. This baseline talent difference isn't everything, but it shouldn't be ignored, either.
Soriano is in the sixth year in an eight-year, $136 million contract, which pays him $18 million each for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons. He will be due about $42 million as of the trade deadline next week.
Heyman cited sources who said the Cubs would have to eat all but $2 million of Soriano's contract to move him. I think that number is a little low, even if the buyer is a low-payroll team like the Indians. Again, we're giving a mill to Damon and three to Kotchman, and those deals are just for one season. I can envision a deal in which we cover perhaps $6 million of Soriano's deal — perhaps $1 million this year and $2.5 million each in 2013 and 2014. Of course, that all depends on ...
... which would have to be nothing. And I don't mean Nobody, I mean nothing. I mean organizational filler, a C-grade relief prospect. Again, the Cubs are smart enough to give Soriano away. It is possible that the Indians would agree to eat $6 million of that contract, and it is possible that they'd be the highest bidder at that price. Acquiring Soriano would be a flier, to be sure, but at the same time, there's no doubt we'd find playing time for this guy if we had him. I've heard crazier.