The Cubs finally pulled off the seemingly impossible today, trading Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees, along with a ton of money, for a minor league prospect to be named later.
Thus ends one of the longest sagas involving a bad contract in recent history.
To get the Yankees to take Soriano off their hands and get a halfway decent prospect in return, the Cubs will eat nearly $18 million of Soriano's remaining contract.
Yes, you heard that right, the Cubs will be paying the Yankees $17.7 million so that Soriano can play for them.
As a Cardinals fan living in Cubs territory, I've been able to witness the Soriano saga first hand. The Cubs grossly overspent on Soriano, signing him to a 8-year, $136 million contract, back when the Tribune Company was trying to win to increase the sales price of the team.
However, after a couple of division titles and zero playoff victories, the Cubs were left with a player who's skills (and knees) were deteriorating and who's play was of far less value than his contract.
Thus, when Albert Pujols became a free agent and was looking for a big contract, although my heart wanted him to stay in St. Louis and retire with the team, in the back of my mind I knew that a long-term contract, like the one he signed with the Angels, could come back to haunt us.
Now the Cardinals are facing a similar dilemma with Carlos Beltran.
Back around the All Star break, Beltran told Derrick Goold that he wanted to play three more years and recently Bernie Miklasz made the case for keeping Beltran.
For the most part I agree with Miklasz, the Cardinals could use Beltran for another year or two. Oscar Taveras has been limited this year due to an ankle injury and may not be ready to take over for Beltran next year. In addition, Jon Jay has not been producing at his usual level, so even if Taveras were ready to start in 2014, maybe it would make more sense to put him in center.
But, the crux of the issue with Beltran is this: How long do the Cardinals want to commit to Beltran and would Beltran be willing to accept a below-market deal to stay with the Cards?
I do not want to see the Cardinals offering Beltran a 3-year deal. My preference, and probably the team's as well, would be a one-year deal with an option for the second year.
If he continues to produce, then there's no problem. But, if his production drops, like it did during the second half of 2012, then the Cardinals will have limited their losses.
The worst thing to do from a team standpoint is to pull another Ty Wigginton move and sign an aging veteran to a 2 or 3 year deal at or (in the case of Wigginton) above market and be stuck with a bad contract.
Injuries happen more often to players as they get older. Look at Lance Berkman, after he signed an extension with the Cardinals. Chris Carpenter is another example.
So, as a team, you have to do everything in your power to limit your exposure to losses, which includes foregoing long-term contracts for shorter contracts for a bit more money per year.
It is a formula that has worked well for the Cardinals in the past and one that they should stick to moving forward.