Cubs may be willing to eat half of Alfonso Soriano’s contract

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Via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times:

Look for the Cubs to pick up more than half of Soriano’s remaining $54 million commitment (three years) if they can find a taker for the likable, glove-challenged outfielder who still has some pop to offer.

That’s more speculation than fact, but it’s a good indication nonetheless of how badly the new Cubs regime wants to get rid of Alfonso Soriano and his organization-bleeding contract. The 35-year-old batted just .244 with a .289 on-base percentage in 508 plate appearances this past year for Chicago while continuing to play poor defense in left field.

Look for Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer to be active salesmen during this week’s Winter Meetings in Dallas, Texas. Even at a half-price discount, Soriano is not a very attractive piece.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.