Cubs trying to dump Alfonso Soriano on the Orioles

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Theo Epstein doesn’t want it. Maybe Dan Duquette will.

According to the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers, the Cubs are willing to pay the “bulk” of the $54 milion that Alfonso Soriano is owed over the next three years in order to send him to Baltimore. It’d be the same journey once taken by another well-compensated Cubs outfielder: Sammy Sosa was traded to Baltimore in Feb. 2005 for Jerry Hairston Jr. and Mike Fontenot, with the Cubs kicking in part of the $17 million he was owed.

Soriano hit .244/.289/.469 with 26 homers and 88 RBI in 475 at-bats for the Cubs last season. He was better in 2010 but worse in 2009, and he hasn’t played in more than 147 games in any of his five years with the Cubs. It’s hard to imagine the Orioles would take him on as anything more than a $4 million-$5 million per year player, but even if the Cubs have to pay $35 million-$40 million of Soriano’s remaining salary, it could well be worth it just for the chance to move on.

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.

The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.

When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.