Sunday, April 03, 2005

Joel Sherman with more Soriano rumors 

In today's NY Post, Joel Sherman reports that the Devil Rays backed out of a Soriano trade that would have sent Soriano to the Devil Fishes in exchange for Danys Baez and Jorge Cantu, citing financial reasons.

The Soriano for Baez part of the deal has been floating around for a little while, although Cantu's inclusion is new. Cantu is a 23 year old second baseman who had a breakout season in 2004, hitting 23 homers between AAA and the majors while doubling at a Kinslerian rate. While Baez and Cantu is a better return for Soriano that Baez alone, I'm still not sure that deal is all that attractive. Cantu doesn't walk and doesn't have any speed, and his defensive skills are considered just adequate. In BA's D-Rays prospect chat this offseason, they claim Cantu would have been ranked in the 6-10 range among D-Ray prospects if he hadn't been disqualified by all his major league ABs late last season, and while the D-Rays have a pretty nice farm, that's not where a top level prospect would end up slotted. Cantu can play some short and third, so he could slot in as a utility player with some pop off the bench, but he's another guy who is going to have to hit .300 to have an acceptable OBP, and Kinsler appears to still be the better option at second base if Soriano were traded.

Cantu would appear to have the most value as a trade chip later on, but that assumes that he doesn't pull a Nivar and regress in 2005...Baez, meanwhile, is another power arm for the pen, but if Francisco returns relatively quickly (and the team is apparently quite pleased with his progress, expecting him to return in a month or so), the pen starts getting pretty crowded, unless the Rangers deal Almanzar or cut Doug Brocail loose.

So I'm not sure that this deal would do a lot for the Rangers, other than get Soriano out of town and clear space for Kinsler. Sherman predicts that Soriano will get dealt to St. Louis mid-season, and I'd probably rather take my chances going that route. Sherman also, for what it is worth, predicts that Mark Teixeira (along with Adam Dunn) will come close to 60 homers this year...

If this deal would have been completed earlier in the off-season, as rumored, couldn't Baez have solidified the rotation spot currently abdicated by Pedro Astacio?
Any vacancies in the rotation should be filled by Rodriguez or Domingez. Trading Soriano to St. Louis might be worse because they do not have a great farm system (there best chips were sent to Oakland in the Mulder deal).
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