SportsTicker reports the Chicago Cubs have signed free agent outfielder Alfonso Soriano (Nationals) to an eight-year contract worth approximately $136 million.
Soriano could take over as the team's center fielder in 2007, with Matt Murton in left field and Jacque Jones in right field. Soriano showed good range in left field in 2006 and led the league in outfield assists with 22. However, it was the first time in his major-league career that he played in the outfield. Moving back to second base would also make sense.
While his stats say otherwise, Soriano is also a potential replacement at the leadoff spot in the team's lineup. Soriano has a career on-base percentage of .325, but he did have a career-high OBP of .351 in 2006. Adding in his 160 strikeouts, fifth in the majors last year, and Soriano just doesn't belong at the top of the order. Overall, it's a solid signing that should add extra pop to their lineup while keeping a high-steals player at the top of the order.
With Soriano gone, teams still in need of outfield help can look toward some of the other names still available. Outfielder Moises Alou (Giants) is still available, but he appears close to signing a two-year deal with the New York Mets. Outfielder J.D. Drew (Dodgers) is reportedly close to signing a two-year deal worth $30 million with the Boston Red Sox. As expected with a Scott Boras client, the price tag doesn't match the talent level on that deal.
Outfielder Carlos Lee (Rangers) is probably the next biggest name available in free agency. Lee, also a left fielder, is coming off the best year of his career after posting career-highs in home runs (37), RBI (116), OPS (.895) and stolen bases (19). Average at fielding his position, Lee has stated he would like to return to the Texas Rangers. However, it has not been reported if the team feels the same way. The Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros have all shown an interest in him, with the Astros making an offer to the outfielder and possibly being close to signing him.
Outfielder Barry Bonds (Giants) is available and no teams appear close to signing
the 42-year-old slugger. However, whoever signs him would have to deal
with the media blitz as he chases the all-time home run record and shoots down
the almost daily speculation of steroids use. Bonds is better suited for
an American League team, a home field with not too much ground to field or a
team with a good center fielder who can help cover some extra turf in left-center.
About Michael Egnak
Michael Egnak is a Hot Off The Wire Analyst at KFFL and has been with the company since 2005. Covering both NFL and MLB, Egnak is also a key contributor to KFFL's fantasy services.
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