It was two-and-a-half years ago when Alfonso Soriano was the crème de la crème of the MLB off-season. The former Yankee, Ranger, and National searched for big money at a time when the wallets of owners were seemingly limitless.
During the winter of 2006, the Philadelphia Phillies were one of the teams vying for the services of the second baseman-turned-outfielder. In his one season in Washington, Soriano bashed a career high 46 home runs, while stealing 41 bases. He became just the fourth player in history to join the 40-40 club. In that same year, Soriano also belted 51 doubles, making him the only player to hit 40 homers, steal 40 bases, and smack 40 doubles. Needless to say, teams were hot for Fonzie.
Following that ridiculous 2006 campaign, Soriano turned down a $70 million deal from the Nationals. Declining a boatload of cash happened to be a wise choice. As the Phillies were believed to have offered $98 million shortly after, which of course, he laughed at, the Cubs came in with a whopper of a deal. In November of ’06, Soriano signed on the dotted line of an eight-year, $136 million deal to play for a club that hadn’t won a title since the early days of yore. After two-plus hack-filled Soriano seasons, the Cubs still long for that elusive World Championship.
Looking back, it was perhaps one of the greatest non-moves ever made by the Phillies. In his first year with Chicago, the left fielder put up decent stats, but nothing even remotely close to those previously. His porous defense, coupled with his fading bat, makes Soriano one of the biggest busts in baseball history. And the Phillies nearly acquired this guy.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but this one was a no-brainer. The Phillies declined to take on that sort of money, therefore keeping Pat Burrell entrenched in left field. In 2007, the Phils made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, laying the groundwork for a World Series title in 2008. They did all of that by keeping the nucleus of Burrell, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, and others, together. If the Phillies had allowed Soriano to hogtie them with his ridiculous monetary demands, the crew that won Philly a title may have looked much different. Ergo, the results may not have been as tremendous.
Presently, Soriano is hitting just .243 for the Cubs as the team struggles to find a spark offensively. His power numbers are down as his swing gets longer, plus, he has been riddled with injuries during his tenure with Cubbies. Had the Phils gone overboard to sign Soriano, there would have been no Burrell, and certainly no Raul Ibanez. In addition, with that massive contract, forget about adding Roy Halladay at the trade deadline. That sort of deal may have also been a killer as the Phils look to extend Shane Victorino and others as of now.
Once in a while, it’s the moves you don’t make that make the most sense. This was certainly one of them.