After nearly seven seasons in Chicago, Alfonso Soriano is no longer a Cub. Despite his positive presence in the clubhouse, Soriano's time in the Windy City will always be marred by the big free agent contract he signed in November 2006.
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Coming off a last place finish in a 96-loss season, the Cubs made a splash in free agency, inking Soriano to an eight-year, $136 million deal before the 2007 season. Soriano had just finished a record-setting year with the Nationals, becoming the first player in history to record 40 homers, 40 steals and 40 doubles in a season while also displaying a strong arm with 22 outfield assists.
However, the mega contract came with a truckload of expectations for Soriano from a fanbase itching for a winning team, with the 2003 NLCS collapse still fresh in everybody's minds.
Soriano racked up a 7.7 WAR (by Baseball Reference's standards) in his time in Chicago, hitting .264/.317/.495 (.812 OPS) with 181 homers (11th all time in Cubs history), 526 RBI and 469 runs.
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Nov. 20, 2006: Soriano's Cubs career started by inking one of the biggest contracts in baseball history at the time.
June 24, 2007: Soriano earned National League Player of the Week honors after going 12-for-25 with three doubles, four homers, five RBI and six runs over a six game span.
June 2007: Soriano was named NL Player of the Month, hitting .336/.379/.697 (1.076 OPS) with 11 homers, 18 RBI, seven doubles, two triples and 24 runs. He had a three-homer game against the Braves on June 8 and went yard in each game against the White Sox in the Crosstown Classic from June 22-24.
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July 2007: Soriano was named to the NL All-Star team and hit a two-run homer in the game, accounting for half of the NL's runs.
2007: Finished the season hitting .299/.337/.560 (.911 OPS) with 33 homers, 70 RBI, 42 doubles, 19 steals and 97 runs in 135 games, coming in at 12th in voting for the NL MVP award. He also recorded 19 outfield assists but committed six errors. Soriano finished with a 4.3 WAR, by far his best total in a Cubs uniform.
Oct. 3-6, 2007: The Cubs' win-now approach paid off, as Soriano helped lead the club to an 85-77 record and first place in the NL Central. However, they were swept by the Diamondbacks in the NLDS and Soriano collected just two singles in 14 at-bats, walking once and striking out four times.
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April 16, 2008: Soriano drew the ire of the Cubs fanbase after he was injured hopping while catching a routine fly ball, leading to a DL stint.
July 2008: Voted as an All-Star starter, but was injured and did not appear in the game.
2008: Soriano played in just 109 games for the Cubs, spending two separate stints on the disabled list. He was productive on the field, with a .280/.344/.532 slash line and an .897 OPS with 29 homers, 75 RBI, 76 runs and 19 steals. Finished with a 2.0 WAR despite missing almost 50 games.
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Postseason 2008: The Cubs racked up the best record in the league with a 97-64 record, but were still swept out of the playoffs by the Dodgers. Soriano went just 1-for-14 with zero extra-base hits and no free passes with four strikeouts. That dropped his playoff average to .107 with only three singles and a walk in six games as a Cub.
Mid-2009: After spending almost his entire career as a leadoff hitter, Soriano was finally bumped down in the order at age 33.
September 2009: Missed the last three weeks of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
2009: Soriano suffered through his toughest season as a member of the Cubs, with a -1.6 WAR, thanks in large part to horrible defense that saw him lead the Major League outfielders with 11 errors in just 117 games. He hit .241/.303/.423 with a .726 OPS, the some of the lowest marks during his Cubs career. He still hit 20 homers, but had only 55 RBI and 64 runs as the Cubs failed to make the playoffs with an 83-78 record and a second-place finish.
2010: Soriano rebounded and played in 147 games, his highest total in four seasons. He put up a .258/.322/.496 (.818 OPS) slash line with 24 homers, 79 RBI, 67 runs and 40 doubles, but he did commit another seven errors, leading to a scary -2.1 defensive WAR.
[SPORTSTALK LIVE: How will Soriano fit on the Yankees?]
2011: Hit 26 homers and drove in 88 in 137 games, but scored only 50 runs and drew 27 walks, his lowest total since the 2002 season. He also made another seven errors.
June 16, 2012: The boos rained down on Soriano from the Wrigley faithful during a marquee series against the Boston Red Sox. Soriano lined to Boston's Will Middlebrooks, but the ball bounced off the glove of the Red Sox third baseman. Assuming the ball was caught, Soriano didn't run and the stadium erupted in boos, thinking Soriano was hot-dogging it and not wanting to hustle down the line. It was something of a signature moment in Soriano's Cubs career -- high expectations he couldn't possibly live up to.
Late July, 2012: Soriano blocked a trade to the Giants as the deadline approached, saying he wanted to remain in Chicago even though the Cubs were out of the playoff hunt. The Giants went on to win the World Series.
2012: It was a rough season for the Cubs, who lost 101 games as Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over the front office for a rebuild. It was not a lost season for Soriano, however. His image began to get a makeover in the public eye as the aging outfielder struggled through an achy knee to suit up for 151 games. He hit 32 homers, drove in 108 and only made one error in left field while acting as a stabilizing presence and a leader in a young locker room.
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June 28-July 9, 2013: At age 37, Soriano proved he is still capable of carrying a team during one of his patented hot stretches, collecting 18 hits in an 11 game span (.400 average) along with eight homers, four doubles, 17 RBI, 14 runs and a pair of stolen bases.
July 25-26, 2013: Soriano agreed to a trade that would send him back to the Yankees, where he started his career. Through 93 games with the Cubs, the veteran slugger had hit 17 homers with 51 RBI, 47 runs and a .254/.287/.4676 slash line. He also stole 10 bases, the first time he reached double digits since 2008.
As Soriano departs for the Big Apple, he will be remembered more for what he didn't do than what he accomplished here in Chicago. But after all that money and all those boos, he was still the same, jovial self with unbriddled enthusiasm right down to the end.