Despite Major League Baseball’s trade deadline being an after thought a week and a half later, players around the league can still be traded and play in the post-season if they are claimed or clear waivers before the end of this month.
Yes, trade rumors are still swirling around Wrigley Field even though it feels like the Cubs have traded half the roster at the end of July. But there are still a couple of players fans and management thought that they would be relieved of on July 31.
While starting pitcher Matt Garza probably comes to mind immediately, don’t forget Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were still looking for suitors to take outfielder Alfonso Soriano–even if it meant eating a majority of the contract he’s entitled to through 2014. There were rumors that teams like the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers were interested in adding the veteran’s bat.
Soriano does possess a no-trade clause and can reject a trade to any team the Cubs may want to ship him to. But let’s pretend that the slugger will play nice and accept to be dealt anywhere the Cubs are able to make a profitable deal — which is unlikely considering they’ll have to pay almost his entire remaining salary — as management will do their best to send Soriano somewhere he has a real chance at winning a ring.
When looking at all the teams atop their respective divisions, one thing that came to my mind is that almost all of them took care of business with their pitching staff before the deadline. Now the question becomes which of these playoff contenders who didn’t address adding a bat 10 days ago will seriously look at going after Soriano to have a legitimate chance in the final weeks of the season and into the playoffs in October.
Two teams that come to mind right away when thinking of the best landing spot for Soriano are the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles. Both teams have great pitching, but neither made a huge splash at the deadline and both lack an offensive bat to snag one of the two AL Wild Card spots over power houses like the Tigers and Los Angeles Angels.
I think Soriano would fit in well with either team and his defense wouldn’t take much of a dive, especially at Camden Yards where the park has very similar dimensions to Wrigley Field.
However, while I would love to see him represent either team by knocking out the rest of the American League competition from reaching the World Series, I don’t see either Oakland or Baltimore making it to the post-season even as a Wild Card. Those spots are for the Angels and Tigers/Chicago White Sox.
So, not only is the best place for Soriano to be in the National League, but his best option is to remain within the division as either a Cincinnati Red or Pittsburgh Pirate. The Great American Ballpark is known as a hitters park and Soriano could definitely drive in runs and crack pitches out of the park for a League Championship for the Reds. But with Joey Votto expected to return to lineup by the end of the month it is unlikely the Reds will look at him with Votto’s MVP numbers coming back before the playoffs get underway.
So that leaves Pittsburgh. PNC Park is one of the parks Soriano has his best success at and the outfield should be very familiar to him. Plus, Pittsburgh seems all put a lock for the post-season. The question remains will they be guaranteed the division series or have to play a play-in-game. With Soriano added to that lineup he could give the Pirates the boost they’ve been looking for to reclaim sole possession of first in the central division.
In the end, I think the price is too much for the Cubs’ management to swallow and Soriano will remain a Chicago Cub till next year’s trade deadline.
Which team will he be helping bring home a championship?
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