Free agent reviews: Alfonso Soriano
Rumor on the street is that Alfonso is looking for $17m/year. And in M’s fandom, some fans want the M’s to sign Soriano and Schmidt which is clearly insanity.
Soriano’s 30. He’s made five straight All Star teams. His conversion to left field started badly but I’d bet the good end-of-year defensive stats are going to show him at average or not much below average (he’s a weird case for the bad, traditional stats: his fielding percentage is bad, his zone rating good). BP’s got him at 9 runs above average, which… well, RAA isn’t a great fielding stat. I’d be shocked if that was borne out by UZR/etc.
Reasons to sign him:
– Add offense, hopefully
– Add a little bit of speed
Reasons not to sign him:
– What the hell happened to him this year?
– He’s right-handed and they’re not moving the fences
– They already have a big roster issue with too many LF/DH/1B guys
– Soriano doesn’t look like a guy you really, really want to be paying $17m when he’s 35
– The Phillies supposedly want him, and every horrible move Gillick makes us feel good about his departure
The first question is the really unsettling one. David Pinto at Baseball Musings touched on this last week, so I’ll quote him
If I’m a GM interested in signing Alfonso, I’ll want to know what changed. Why did he draw so many more walks than in 2006 than in previous seasons? Did the Washington coaches get him to change his approach? Was it that with a poor offense behind him, he got less to hit? If it was coaching, it this something that he’s absorbed, or does he constantly need to be reminded?
At .350, with his power, he’s a very productive player. At a .330 OBA, he’s more of an out machine and certainly not a good leadoff hitter. My guess is that the teams convinced 2006 is real are the teams that wind up bidding for Alfonso. The other will find the money offered too rich.
I entirely agree with Pinto on this. My thought is it’s likely a combination of factors: RFK suited him, for one, it was a contract year and (as we learn in “Baseball Between the Numbers”) the contract year effect is real. I don’t think this is a new level of performance for Soriano, though as a Mariners-obsessed writer I haven’t spent the kind of time researching this that a team thinking about plunking down $17m would.
Let someone else overpay. The M’s have more important needs and even if you want to upgrade the offense somehow, there should be better ways to spend that money.
Soriano’s deal, though, will still be better than whatever Carlos Lee gets.