A day after finalizing a deal that unloaded Carlos Zambrano on the Miami Marlins, the Cubs appear to be hard at work unloading another problematic player, Alfonso Soriano.
The “problem” with the outfielder, mind you, is totally different than that with Zambrano. Soriano, who turns 36 tomorrow, is a hard worker and a well-liked teammate. The “problem” is that he’s also owed $18 million over the next three years, and his legs have left him. Although he still has some life left in his bat, playing regularly in left field is not something Soriano can do well anymore. And doing so is probably sapping some of that life from his bat.
So, it’s unsurprising that the Cubs have been aggressively shopping Soriano for some time now, on the understanding that the Cubs would eat enough of his contract to make a deal palatable for some AL team, who could DH Soriano for the next few years.
Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs have spoken to at least eight AL teams about Soriano, with the Mariners and O’s mentioned specifically. The most Levine expects the Cubs to save by dealing Soriano is $5 million per year, with the Cubs eating the remaining $39 million. Even in that case, I wouldn’t expect the return on such a deal to be anything worth getting excited about.
Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein certainly didn’t rule out a trade of Soriano when he was discussing the Zambrano trade yesterday. Indeed, Epstein came off like a guy selling Soriano to the whole of the AL.
“[Soriano] hit 26 home runs and drove in 88 runs last year,” Epstein said. “He’s a valuable offensive player, so it’s our responsibility as an organization to work with him and to get the best out of him. At some point in the future, if there’s a transaction that makes sense with any of our players that puts the Cubs in a better position moving forward, we are going to pursue it. But in respect to Alfonso, he has power and is an offensive contributor. We can work with him to get the best out of him and see where that takes us.”
Sounds like the kinds of things Epstein said about Zambrano … and Sean Marshall.
The team whose name keeps popping up is the Baltimore Orioles, with a report out of Baltimore claiming the Cubs and O’s have discussed a Soriano deal. Phil Rogers suggests something similar, and even mentions Brian Roberts (oh no, not that again) by name, though it seems like he’s speculating.
The Boston Red Sox, who have discussed Marlon Byrd with the Cubs, are not interested in Soriano says Nick Cafardo, which is unsurprising.
Soriano, you’ll note, has a no-trade clause, though he’s previously indicated he would waive it if the Cubs asked. Perhaps the rebuilding nature of the team will inspire him to hold to that.