At this point in the winter, an already thin free agent market is now barren, which means that teams hoping to add an arm or a bat will have to explore the option of doing so via trade.
For those that are in need of the latter, Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells are two of the bigger names, and larger contracts, that remain available. Both are similar in the sense that each represents a simply horrid contract from the history of baseball.
However, at this stage in their careers, given the results of the past couple of seasons, one represents significantly more value than the other. That one, somewhat surprisingly, is Alfonso Soriano. It’s for a variety of reasons that Soriano would be a better option for a team looking to add an outfielder/designated hitter.
The first is based purely off of the numbers. Soriano’s are clearly better. He still have very good power numbers and finished in the top three in the National League in RBIs this past season, even on an absolutely putrid Chicago Cubs team. Even if his average is unimpressive, and he strikes out a ton, you know what you’re getting from him. And the last two seasons indicate that it could be miles better than what Wells is bringing to the table.
In the past two years, Wells has hit .218 and .230, respectively. He’s appeared in barely over 200 games combined. If you’re trading for Wells, you’re essentially hoping that you’re trading for the 2010 version, rather than anything close to what we’ve seen in the past two seasons.
Neither of these options represent a particularly safe bet as far s health is concerned. Soriano’s knees are clearly going, while Vernon Wells has barely been seen on the field in the past couple of seasons. So any concerns over health regarding either of these guys would obviously be valid. So each of them are risky from that standpoint.
With the edge still in Soriano’s favor, based off of his offensive performance in the past couple of seasons, look at what the Cubs are willing to eat as far as his contract goes. The Cubs would be willing to pick up the tab to the point where a team acquiring Soriano would be on the hook for about two years and $10 million total. That’s a bargain. We don’t know how much the Los Angeles Angels might be willing to cover of the $42 million Wells is still owed.
Essentially, prospective teams are deciding whether they want a 36-year-old coming off of one of his best years, or a 34-year-old coming off two of his worst. The team that acquires Vernon Wells is taking a gamble and hoping he returns to the 2010 Wells. Whereas a team looking at Soriano is getting less of a mystery offensively, and someone who improved greatly with the glove last season.
Almost any way you slice it, Alfonso Soriano looks to be the more attractive option out on the trade market. Now if they could only find a suitor for him.