The Chicago Cubs have been working hard for almost a year to unload left fielder Alfonso Soriano, 35, whose troubled knees have sapped him of any semblance of ability in the field. While the bat still has life left, it’s very hard to imagine Soriano being the Cubs’ starting left fielder in 2012.
And Soriano agrees.
“It’s like 50-50,” Soriano said of the chances he’s back with the Cubs next year. “I want to stay here. If they put a good team [on the field] with a good chance to win, I’d like to be here. But if they want to change everything, like to young players … it depends on them, not me.”
Soriano’s comments sound very similar to Aramis Ramirez’s about the future of the team: rebuild, and I’m gone. Bring in solid talent, and I’ll stay.
The difference, of course, is that the Cubs might well want Ramirez to return. The same can almost certainly not be said of Soriano.
Also unlike Ramirez, Soriano says if the Cubs want to and can move him, he won’t stand in the way.
“I’ll do whatever they want,” Soriano said, reiterating his stance that he’s willing to waive his no-trade rights. “I’m open. I like it here, but always I’m open.”
But is a trade really realistic, in August or in the offseason?
I’ve maintained for weeks that there simply has to be an American League team out there who would be willing to take Soriano on as a DH if the Cubs eat $14 or $15 million per year of the $18 million per year that Soriano has left on his deal through 2014 (*shudders*). Focused solely on hitting, and saving his legs for at bats (and gingerly trotting around the bases), Soriano’s production might even increase. At $3 or $4 million per year, he could well be a bargain.
The alternatives are unattractive: (1) Soriano starts in LF next year, and continues to deteriorate (and maybe even blocks a young outfielder); (2) Soriano sits the bench and becomes the most expensive pinch hitter in the history of baseball; or (3) Soriano is released, and the Cubs choke down $54 million of heartache.