Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In the Cross Hairs: Alfonso Soriano

The trade deadline is just 22 days away, and it is yet to be determined whether or not the Royals will be buyers, sellers or stand patters at the deadline. My gut tells me that it will be the final of these three options, with the possibility of Kansas City making a couple of small moves to shore up the roster for the final two months of the season. Either way over the next couple of weeks I hope to take some time to focus on some individuals that might be available for little in terms of prospects. Today the spotlight is on Alfonso Soriano.

As of Tuesday, Soriano is hitting .263/.289/.459. Thanks to some power and a still above average glove in the outfield he has been worth 1.1 fWAR. However, there are also a couple of pretty big problems with Soriano. The first is his home/road split. This season at Wrigley, he is hitting .275/.306/.523. On the road that line drops to .252/.273/.404. 

The second problem with Soriano is his contract. He is currently owed roughly $8 million more in 2013 and $18 million in 2014. Quite simply, if the Cubs are willing to cover at least $21 million here the Royals should simply walk away. Truthfully, committing $5 million to a 37 year-old Soriano for the next season and a half might still be too much. (Right now, Fangraphs values 1 fWAR at roughly $5 million, so in theory for the Royals to get value here Soriano would have to be worth 1 fWAR over the next 18 months.)

The positive in terms of Soriano is that he still blisters left handed pitching. This season he has hit .317/.346/.495 against southpaws, this falls in line with his career slash of .279/.346/.518. He could be the ideal platoon partner with David Lough, who has hit just .259/.310/.296 against left handed pitching throughout his brief Major League career. 

Of course, even if the Royals and Cubs could come to an agreement involving the right players going to Chicago and the right amount of money coming back to Kansas City, Alfonso Soriano would still have to approve the trade due to his 10:5 rights. Last August, Soriano was nearly dealt to San Francisco just prior to the waiver deadline, but he vetoed the move. Would he do the same in 2013?

This season, Soriano says he would approve a trade if it gave him the chance to win. Does Kansas City fit that bill for him? For the next year and a half he would probably have a better shot at the playoffs as a Royal than as a Cub. However, is the chance so much better that he would be willing to uproot his life and change organizations? I can't say.

Ultimately, I'd be interested in Soriano if the price was right. He's still a quality fielder, which is important for our flyball oriented staff and the fact that he still hits lefties so well makes him a very strong fit with the current roster. 

I hate to speculate on the type of prospects the Cubs would demand, but the more money they are kicking back in the deal the more the Royals would have to give up. Hypothetically, if the Cubs sent back $22-26 million, I'd be comfortable giving up a guy like Chris Dwyer, Everett Teaford or Justin Marks plus a low level throw in. Unfortunately, what would really appeal to the Cubs is international pool money, but it doesn't look like the Royals would have much, if any to offer.

Whether or not this deal could happen really depends on how much the Cubs want to move their $136 million man. Cubs fans appear to have a strong desire to cut the cord for next to nothing, but I'm not sure if the front office feels the same way. Josh Vernier is right that it isn't 2007 anymore, but that doesn't mean Alfonso Soriano couldn't be a nice complementary piece to the Royals roster, if the price is right.

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