Soriano’s power remains alive in his age-36 season. The sixth-year Cub owns a .499 slugging percentage thanks to 19 home runs and 22 doubles in 359 at-bats for a .226 ISO. This year, the hits are falling in as well, giving him a solid .272/.322/.499 line, enough for a 113 wRC+. Although his 2.9 WAR is inflated by an extremely iffy +12 UZR, he’s having a productive year for the second time in three seasons.
But it’s still not an $18 million season, and although Soriano is worth playing and even worth paying a moderate sum for, the Cubs want nothing to do with his $36 million owed over the next two seasons. If they can get a team to eat any sort of significant chunk of that contract, we might see Soriano man a corner for a playoff-contending team. The Tigers were connected in rumors as well, as the Giants, but the Hunter Pence acquisition likely closes that door.
Cuddyer is showing the kind of power boost expected from a player moving to Coors Field from Target Field. His ISO has inflated from .176 to a solid .226, with just five fewer home runs (15) in nearly 200 fewer plate appearances.
However, the increase in his quality of contact has been mitigated by an inability to actually make contact. His 19.5% strikeout rate is his highest since 2007, lowering his batting average and OBP to .260 and .317 respectively. The result is a mere 104 wRC+ out of a 33-year-old with $21 million remaining over two seasons on his contract. Again, useful, and a potential improvement for some teams, but not worth the money.
So nobody would claim him, one would think, except Jeff Passan noted at least one general manager would “love to overpay Cuddyer.” Either way, the Rockies get a chance to work out a deal with a claiming team or Cuddyer passes through and the entire market is available – if, of course, Dan O’Dowd and crew are willing to deal.
Francoeur is in the midst of his worst year ever, hitting .238/.275/.366 (66 wRC+), with his .128 ISO his lowest since his disastrous 2008 season (.239/.294/.359, 70 wRC+). That season was the beginning of the end in Atlanta, even though he got 324 more pitiful (65 wRC+) plate appearances in 2009 with Atlanta before his traded to the Mets.
And so his path as a Royal becomes extremely similar to his tenures with Atlanta and New York. Start out hot – 117 wRC+ in debut year with Kansas City, 126 with Atlanta, 115 with New York – follow up with a big fizzle, and finish with a disappointing trade for a non-asset.
Francoeur’s clubhouse presence has convinced teams to add him despite similarly horrible seasons to his 2012 to date – he had a 65 wRC+ and a 76 wRC+ prior to his last two trades respectively. And he does have two marketable and easily-leveraged skills: a bat that typically crushes left-handers (.292/.339/.484 career line, although just .226/.268/.396 this year) and an arm that haunts opposing baserunners.
Teams won’t eat much of Francoeur’s $9.5 million remaining price tag, but the Royals shouldn’t require much to trade him – Wil Myers is ready and waiting to take his spot, and he won’t be up just to sit on the bench.