Usually, when Nick Cafardo (or any other person covering a beat) says something generic like this …
Alfonso Soriano, LF, Cubs — Always on the trading block, Soriano could still be moved before spring training, as teams like the Orioles and Rangers look to make last-minute moves to improve. Soriano belted 32 homers and knocked in 108 runs for the 101-loss Cubs, who continue to be willing to assume the bulk of the contract for a fair return.
… I don’t take too much note. It looks like he’s just offering some thoughts, as opposed to reporting things he’s heard. Interesting, I suppose, but connecting Soriano to the Rangers and Orioles in a this-could-make-sense kind of way doesn’t really take much digging.
But when, seemingly out of nowhere, Carrie Muskat picks up the story, I start to listen. From Carrie:
There were reports Sunday that the Orioles and Rangers were interested in adding a right-handed bat, and that they have inquired about Alfonso Soriano. The Boston Globe reported the interest by the two teams in the veteran, who turned 37 earlier this month, and who would be a good fit for an American League team, which could use him as a designated hitter. Soriano does have a full no trade clause, so he would have to approve a move. He has two years remaining on his contract.
Just stirring things up on a slow Sunday? Just happened to see this Cafardo piece and thought she would share?
Maybe. It has been my experience that Carrie is generally reluctant to jump feet first into the rumor game, particularly where something looks as thin as what Cafardo said. Not only did Carrie highlight and repeat the Cafardo report, she ostensibly added that the Rangers and Orioles “have inquired” about Soriano. Given the broad range of front offices’ efforts in the offseason, I have no doubt that’s true. The question is whether this is just Cafardo-driven chit-chat, or whether Carrie has heard whispers that she is disinclined to describe in too much detail.
Ultimately, I can’t say. As we’ve discussed here before at length, Soriano makes a great deal of sense for the Orioles, who’ve done very little to upgrade their luck-driven playoff roster of 2012. The Rangers make a touch less sense, given their depth of hitters (deep enough to possibly push Mike Olt out of the mix), but they, too, have had a thin offseason.
With the addition of Scott Hairston, the Cubs have some increased cover for trading Soriano, though the resulting outfield – Hairston-DeJesus-Schierholtz – would be among the weakest in the bigs. A more interesting scenario has the Cubs trading Soriano, moving David DeJesus to left field, and signing Michael Bourn to play center field. I don’t think such a sequence is likely or necessarily advisable, but it is certainly interesting.
I think the Cubs will continue to shop Soriano, hoping to land actual value for the 37-year-old left-field who’s coming off one of his best seasons in recent memory. Although dealing Soriano would probably be a major hit to the teams’ chances to be competitive in 2013, I’m still not convinced 2013 is really the focus. I also don’t really think Soriano makes the difference between a competitive team and a non-competitive one. (Another also: we don’t know what the Cubs might get in return for Soriano – it could conceivably represented a roster neutral move, depending on the personnel.)