Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

I’d planned on including this as part of the next Lukewarm Stove, but that’s shaping up to be a huge one, and I didn’t want this bit to get lost in the shuffle.

Yesterday, Alfonso Soriano was asked – once again – about his no-trade rights, about the Cubs’ future, and about the relationship between the two. His response was interesting, instructive, and long-winded-thought-provoking.

“It depends how long,” Soriano said when asked about being a part of the Cubs through an obviously-ongoing rebuild, per CSNChicago. “If they want to rebuild for next year, I’ll be here. But if they want to take longer than two years, then they have to think about moving me out to another team that can win quickly.”

Soriano joked that he might want to retire after his contract, so it’s now or never for he and the Cubs. But, of course, there was truth in his joke and in his statement. Soriano is under contract with the Cubs through 2014, and if the Cubs intend not to be competitive during those two years, they will have to think long and hard about the kind of value Soriano provides to the Cubs as a member, or as a jettisoned asset. Because, if he stays, he’s certainly expensive ($18 million in each of the next two years). And, from Soriano’s perspective, if the Cubs tell him they expect to be … young … through 2014, he’ll have to think long and hard about his previous no-trade position – the one that had him willing to consider a trade only to immediately competitive teams on the Eastern half of the country (plus the Dodgers), but possibly excluding the Orioles, Rays, and Pirates.

Obviously Soriano provides a great deal of value to the Cubs, both on and off the field. But there are expectations that the team won’t be much better in 2013 than it was in 2012, and, if that’s true, might not the Cubs be squandering whatever trade value Soriano has by holding onto him? And if they make plain to him the truth of the rebuild (if, in fact, it is the truth), might he be more willing to open up his extraordinarily short list of teams to which he’d consider a trade?

Then again, if the Cubs hope to improve in 2013, and possibly be .500ish or better by 2014, where would Soriano’s heart lie? The Cubs’? All things equal, we know he’d prefer to stay in Chicago, and, for all we know, the Cubs really do hope to be competitive by 2014. So maybe they’d like to keep Soriano anyway, rendering this whole discussion moot.

As the world turns …

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