Last year during rumor season, Alfonso Soriano’s name was among the hottest. Not because of his attractiveness to other teams, mind you, but because of the Cubs’ theoretical desire to be parted from him. That is likely to be true again this year.
Like last year, among the hurdles to making such a parting happen (the largest of which is the $48 million the Cubs still owe him through 2014) is the no-trade clause in Soriano’s contract. And, like last year, Soriano has suggested that he doesn’t necessarily intend to invoke it if the Cubs try to send him to a contender. From the Sun-Times:
“I’m 36 years old, so, yeah, I would like to have the opportunity to … if they want to trade me, I hope it is to a team that’s a contender because it’s about trying to go for that ring,” Soriano said before the Cubs’ third consecutive loss. “You want to feel good, feel like maybe you got a chance for that if we don’t have a chance here. But like I said, it depends on them. I don’t control the situation.”
Well, um, yes you do. But we know what you’re saying.
Soriano’s been in two World Series before, both losers with the Yankees. You could understand why he might be interested in being on a winner one of these years, especially considering, as he said, he’s 36. And, for the same reason, you can understand why the Cubs would be willing to oblige him.
But, here’s the thing about no-trade rights: no matter what guys say, they like to use them. And why shouldn’t they? The rights were earned, either by virtue of contract or 10/5 rights, and it’s hard to begrudge a guy for being where he wants to be. The problem for the Cubs, even if Soriano is willing, generally, to waive his rights, is they’re going to have a very limited group of teams to whom they could even try to trade Soriano. The list is almost exclusively in the AL, and limited to teams who really need a DH upgrade (and whose DH situation, at present, is dire). With that kind of limited market, maybe the Cubs are able to put together only one deal. And maybe that deal is with a team – the one team – to which Soriano is unwilling to go.
In other words, it’s nice to know he’s open to the idea of being traded, but we’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Fantasizing about a nice return remains a foolish endeavor. If the Cubs can deal him and save a few million, that’s probably a deal best accepted. If they pick up a non-useless prospect in the process, that’s just the thickest kind of gravy.
At least Soriano’s been hitting well of late. That certainly can’t hurt things.