The Chicago Cubs expect to be in a rebuilding phase for at least another season or two. Meanwhile, the front office is doing a great job of unloading expensive contracts for veteran players, leaving spending freedom for the future when the roster is finally competitive. The Cubs moved a lot of salary ahead of the 2012 MLB non-waiver trade deadline. However, Alfonso Soriano, the team's most expensive player, has not been traded. Now fans will wait to see if the Cubs place Soriano on waivers in an attempt to pass him and at least some his contract to another team.
Soriano is owed $19 million in each of the next two seasons. He isn't necessarily blocking a prospect at the moment, his bat is helping the offense and he has been uncharacteristically solid on defense. Still, it doesn't make much sense to run him out there every day to join a team full of players in their low- to mid-20s. No one is expecting Chicago to compete in the immediate future, and it is more important for those players who are part of the team's rebuilding plans to learn to play together.
So could Soriano be traded in August? First he would have to be placed on waivers, which is likely to happen. Most assume he would clear waivers, giving the Cubs a chance to attempt a trade. There is always a chance, though, that he could be claimed off of waivers. While this would be somewhat shocking, it is not completely impossible.
The Chicago White Sox, for example, claimed outfielder Alex Rios off of waivers in August of 2009. Rios had recently signed a six-year contract worth $64 million and had totals of 14 home runs and 62 RBIs at the time. As a result of this waiver claim, the Sox will still be paying Rios $13 million in both 2013 and 2014.
Soriano is hitting .273, with 19 home runs and 61 RBIs. His contract is not very tempting, but to certain teams, his play might be. With no errors in left field this season, his defense may not hold teams back like it would have in the past. There is a chance that Soriano could be claimed if he is placed on waivers.
If Soriano were to clear waivers, the Cubs would likely have to pay a lot of his remaining salary as a part of any trade. Of course, he also has no-trade rights and may elect to stay in Chicago.
As a Cubs fan, I do like watching Soriano play. I believe he has performed well and was simply overpaid by the team's previous management. If Chicago could move his salary and free up more funds for the future, I would support that as a fan. If the team is going to pay him, though, I would rather see Soriano stick around and support the younger players throughout the rebuilding.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.