Pitchers and catchers are expected to show up at Mesa in 16 days (February 10th). But there will be many that show up early. So, baseball is right around the corner! With that said, the Chicago Cubs have a logjam of outfielders on their roster. As the Cubs have just signed Scott Hairston to a 2-year deal that can be up to 6 million if all incentives are reached. The Hairston contract is not yet official as the Cubs still have to clear a spot for him on the 40-man roster.
Going into spring training, the Cubs could have 7 outfielders in camp of whom played in the majors last year … Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz, Scott Hairston, Dave Sappelt, Brett Jackson and Tony Campana. Jackson will likely start the season in Triple A and be a May/June call-up while Campana is likely to start the season in Triple A as well if he’s not gone by then. So, if the season is started today with no moves, Soriano will start in LF, DeJesus in CF and Schierholtz/Hairston in a platoon role. Sappelt will then be left as the 5th OF and the 24th guy on the team.
However, could we see a trade of Soriano or DeJesus before the start of the season? I truly think we can and the Cubs still have to clear 2 spots on the 40-man roster. Yes, the Carlos Villanueva signing is still not official because the Cubs haven’t cleared a spot for him on the 40-man roster. I think a Soriano trade before spring training is way more likely than a DeJesus trade before the season. I think DeJesus will be a trade deadline trade.
The Cubs have been shopping Soriano for the past few years and this time around, he’s expected to be dealt. Since he had his best season in a Cub uniform last season and looked revived. Also, the Cubs will take on most of Soriano’s contract. The Cubs reportedly will take on 26 million of the 36 million owe to Fonzie. So, a team could have Soriano for 2-years at 5 million per year. To me, that’s a steal in today’s baseball contracts. A team that sticks out to me as a possible destination for Soriano is the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles have been linked to Soriano in the past and are in need of an OF. Since they couldn’t land Arizona Diamondbacks’ Jason Kubel. As the D’Backs opted to trade Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves.
Other teams that have been linked to Soriano in the past, but might not be interested anymore are the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Cubs and Phillies reportedly talked about a trade centered around Soriano, but it looks like the Phillies opted for another OF in Delmon Young. The Rays had interest in Soriano to be their DH, but they signed Luke Scott yesterday. As of right now, both of those teams will not be making a trade for Soriano.
Another team that is flying low in the radar is the Cleveland Indians. I’ve seen their name floated as a possible trade partner for Soriano. They do need a DH and Soriano will play LF at times for them as well.
Don’t forget Soriano has a full no-trade cause and can veto a trade to any team. Soriano said at the Cubs convention that he wants to finish his contract as a Cub. But he has also said in the past he won’t get in the way of a trade. Unless it’s to a West Coast team as he does not like them. If you recall, the Cubs had a trade with the San Francisco Giants at the trade deadline, but Soriano veto the trade.
If none of the OF are traded before the start of the season, it wouldn’t surprise me too much. However, either Soriano or DeJesus will be traded when the Cubs are ready to call-up Brett Jackson.
The Cubs will have to make moves in the near future to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for both SP Carlos Villanueva and OF Scott Hairston. If that’s trading RP Carlos Marmol and/or Soriano/DeJesus or DFA’ing a player or 2. If the Cubs don’t make a trade(s), I say RP Lendy Castillo will be DFA in favor of Villanueva and Campana DFA in favor of Hairston. I think Castillo will slip to Triple A, but Campana will be claimed and will be playing for another team in 2013.
Only time will tell, though!