You couldn’t pick a better time for Alfonso Soriano to get hot at the plate.
With the imminent arrival of Anthony Rizzo one month away (June 24) this might be the Cubs best, and only shot, at dealing Soriano if Tom Ricketts is still willing to eat an enormous $40M of Soriano’s remaining $50M dollar contract.
That’s a lot of dough for Ricketts to swallow, but it’s also one of the most important business decision on a laundry list of moves in the name of rebuilding.
Does Alfonso have any trade value?
Soriano’s stayed hot during the past two weeks batting .314 (17-for-54), 9 R, 7 HR & 12 RBI, including long balls in seven of his past 13 games.
Overall, he’s managed to reach base safely in 34 of 45 contest, collect 30 RBI in his last 40 games and hit nearly .300 with RISP (.298).
It’s been just enough to prove Soriano’s still a capable middle-of-the-order batter by showing some pop and the ability to drive in runs.
And if not for his gimpy knee that appears to grow worse by the week, it’s likely his overall numbers would be even better.
Poor fielding has always made Soriano an ideal candidate as a full-time DH, but his tattered 36-year-old legs are making it a priority more than ever before.
Who wants him?
Need and opportunity are two different issues.
Despite the tight divisional races in the American League there’s not much of a market for a full-time designated hitter.
My best guess as to where there’s potential interest in Alfonso are Cleveland, Detroit, New York & Tampa Bay.
The Indians & Tigers have both allowed more runs than runs scored.
New York, being a uniquely difficult market for some players, would be an seamless transition for the former Yankee.
And although Tampa Bay recently added Hideki Matsui to DH, Soriano could provide a right-handed equivalent to the lineup.
It’s harder to imagine Soriano going to a National League team where he’d be more of a role-player/pinch-hitter than acting as a full-time DH.
However, contenders Washington, Arizona & San Fran are all on the low end of runs scored in the NL.
The Nationals outfield is weak offensively outside of Bryce Harper and the injured Jason Werth.
Conversely, there’s not much hope in Arizona for Soriano with left fielder Jason Kubel having a solid season .298, 4 HR, 23 RBI.
That leaves the offensively challenged Giants who actually need a better upgrade in RF over Nick Schierholtz .250, 3 HR, 10 RBI than in left field (Soriano’s position) with Melky Cabrera batting .368, 4 HR, 25 RBI.
All things considered, selling Soriano in either league won’t be an easy chore for Epstein/Hoyer & Tom Ricketts.
But if there’s ever an advantageous time to trade Soriano, this looks to be it.