By Dave Wischnowsky–
CHICAGO (CBS) Adam Dunn looks awful. Alfonso Soriano feels awful for him.
And then there are White Sox and Cubs fans.
They mainly just feel awful for themselves as they’re forced to watch Dunn and Soriano while thinking about those multi-year, megabucks contracts that their favorite ballclubs gave to them.
But, hey, only three more years left on each deal!
After, well, this one.
With all that awful in the Windy City air – and even emanating from the bench, which was where Dunn found himself last night during the Sox’s 4-3 victory over the Cubs – I was wondering if we could freshen things up a bit by working out a deal involving Dunn and Soriano that could make everyone in Chicago feel happy.
Or, at least, less awful.
On Wednesday morning, a topic was struck up on The Score asking if Chicago baseball fans would be in favor of trading the Sox’s struggling Dunn for the Cubs’ perennially underachieving Soriano.
Straight up. No take backs.
My friend Scott, a disgruntled Cubs fan like myself (as if there’s any other kind), wrote on my Facebook page that he’d make that trade. Thinking about Dunn’s paltry .175 average and 91 strikeouts with 86 games to go, I instinctively recoiled at the idea.
But then I started thinking.
And came to the conclusion that, perhaps, it could actually work – for both ballclubs.
First off, here are each player’s contract numbers: Dunn is earning (use that term loosely) $12 million this year, with the Sox on the hook for $14 million in 2012, and $15 million in both ’13 and ’14. The Cubs, meanwhile, are scheduled to pay Soriano $19 million each season through 2014, including this one.
That means that after 2011, Dunn will be owed $41 million by the White Sox, while Soriano has $57 million coming from the Cubs.
Now, Cubs fans’ biggest concerns about Soriano aren’t if he can hit – the guy will never be worth $19 million, but a .271 average with 14 homers and 34 RBI is far from awful. Rather, the question looming over Soriano like a high pop fly is what will the 35-year-old ham-handed outfielder look like defensively in the outfield when he’s 36, 37 and 38?
Dunn, meanwhile, couldn’t look less comfortable as a designated hitter in the AL – a role he doesn’t want to play. Dunn is no defensive gem himself, of course, which is a huge reason why he ended up as a DH in the first place. However, the big guy can also play first base, and that’s why a trade for Soriano might make sense.
Fact is, the Cubs aren’t going anywhere this season. But after it, the team has more than $50 million coming off the books and is expected to be a major player in the free agent market this winter.
With Carlos Pena signed to just a one-year contract, it’s widely assumed the Cubs will pursue a slugging free-agent first baseman for 2012 – probably not Albert Pujols, but perhaps Prince Fielder.
But what if instead the Cubs traded Soriano for Dunn and used him in left field for the remainder of 2011 before slotting him in at first base next season? Dunn, who is only 31 and very well might be rejuvenated by a return to the National League, has hit more home runs at Wrigley Field (25) than any other place except for Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark (125).
And he played eight full seasons there.
If Dunn could fill the Cubs’ impending hole at first base, the team could then have the flexibility to sign or trade for a power-hitting outfielder in the offseason, helping to further rebuild a poor lineup.
Meanwhile, the White Sox would be able to dump Dunn, who could be shaping up into one of the worst free-agent signings in Chicago history. And the South Siders would also get a usable – albeit expensive – piece in Soriano, who should still be a solid DH (and occasional) outfielder for the remainder of his huge contract.
If all that worked out – and, certainly, that’s a big if – the Cubs and White Sox could pull off something miraculous: Using just one stone to kill two birds.
Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.