It didn't take long for Chicago Cubs fans to become smitten with Geovany Soto, following a 2008 rookie campaign that featured an All-Star Game appearance, the Rookie of the Year Award and even a few league MVP votes. That's what 23 home runs and 86 RBI will do for you in Chicago.
Unfortunately, in Chicago, not living up to the expectations that follow ends the relationship quicker than it starts.
Soto still is considered an above-average offensive catcher, and a change of scenery is best for both parties in this instance.
He is hitting a measly .140 and reaching base just a shade over .200. He has often struggled to stay in shape throughout the season, which has contributed to his troubles. He's averaged just 110 games played since 2008. And it's not because Koyie Hill needed at-bats.
His patience at the plate is gone, and his power hasn't produced 20 home runs since 2008. With his contract unlikely to be renewed by the Cubs at the end of the season, now is the time to trade him to a contender.
Welington Castillo awaits in Triple-A, already having met the quota of 500 at-bats that Theo Epstein prefers his prospects to complete before reaching the parent club.
This season, Castillo is hitting .333 with a .431 OBP. In his 519 career at-bats for the Iowa Cubs, Castillo has 30 home runs and 103 RBI. His greatest strength may be his defense and arm strength, another improvement over Soto. If Castillo is the catcher of the future, and he is, now is the time to build a rapport with the major league staff.
Trading Alfonso Soriano will be tough, but there is a perfect fit for Soto in Tampa Bay. The Rays have World Series aspirations this season, but a glaring weakness in the lineup is at catcher. Jose Molina, a career backup, is handling the majority of the catching duties.
Molina, drafted by the Cubs in 1993, is a quality backup, but not an everyday catcher for a World Series contender. Soto provides a better bat and glove than Molina. And getting 15 home runs from your catcher is plenty good with the pitching that Joe Maddon throws out every day.
In return, the Cubs have a plethora of prospects to choose from in return from Tampa Bay. But I think the best option in return is right-hander Wade Davis. Davis, a former top prospect for the Rays, has been delegated to the bullpen this season. He's just 26 years old and could enter the Cubs rotation immediately or help the struggling bullpen.
The Rays have plenty of pitching depth, so giving up Davis for an upgrade at their weakest position is worth it for the season without sacrificing a vital piece of the future.
Marlon Byrd was the first to go this season, but he won't be the last. Sometimes a break-up is best for both parties involved. It's time for the Cubs and Soto to start seeing other people.