Alfonso Soriano says he doesn’t want to be traded, but if the Cubs get off to a poor start and there’s an opportunity to be moved to a team where he’d feel comfortable, he’d be open to it.
“At my age, I don’t want to be part of a losing team,” he said, per the Tribune. “I hope we start good and everybody stays healthy and sends a message because I believe in this team with the people that we’ve got.
“My point is I signed here to win the World Series. I don’t want to go somewhere else and win. But if we have a bad start I have to think about moving somewhere else because I think there’s no more than two years left in my career.”
If it comes down a trade, Soriano says he and his agent have had conversations with the Cubs’ front office, which Jed Hoyer confirmed, about a list of “six or seven” teams in the “East or Central” to which he’d be willing to accept a trade. It sounds like the two sides have spoken at length about the possibility of a future trade, and are on the same page about what can and cannot be accomplished. That’s good news.
So, who wants to speculate about those “six or seven” teams on which we should be keeping our eyes in the early going this year? We might be able to make some pretty good guesses based on things Soriano has said before.
The criteria about which we’ve previously been told:
(1.) Probably nothing out west. Although Soriano has been a little vague on this (does he mean East Coast as in, the actual Coast, only? Also, he would have accepted a deal to the Dodgers, so how hard is his line?), but we can surmise that his preference is the eastern half of the States, where the trip to his home in the DR is much shorter. He now also says “Central,” which could mean a Central Division, or the center of the country – either way, there has to be at least one team in the middle of the country (Texas? St. Louis? Cincinnati? Kansas City?)
(2.) A contender. Soriano wants to go to a team with a chance to win this and next year. He’s running out of years, so this is understandable.
(3.) A team that won’t just bury him as a DH. Although Soriano would probably be open to *some* designated hitter duty, he still wants to play in the field some. And last year, he showed that he could still play pretty well in left field.
So, what six or seven teams generally check those boxes? Well, a number of teams do – the Braves, the Nationals, the Phillies, and more immediately come to mind. The problem, however, is that not every team that fits Soriano’s criteria is actually going to have any interest in dealing for him, at least not short of an injury or two.
What about teams that look like they could use him, or who have previously had interest? The Yankees fit Soriano’s criteria, and they could use Soriano in the outfield some and DH some (they need a right-handed power bat). If Soriano is willing to stay in Chicago, then you’ve got to figure the White Sox fit. The Indians might fit for Soriano, but they’re running out of spots. Ditto the Tigers. The Red Sox might fit, but that’s a tricky outfield. The Orioles probably fit, but they might look to DH him more than he’d like. The Rays probably fit, but there’s the same potential issue there.
The Mets definitely have a need, but are they competitive enough? Are the Pirates competitive enough for Soriano? Are the Royals? Are the Rangers close enough to the DR?
I would love to know the teams on Soriano’s list, and see how much overlap there is between teams with potential need, and teams to which he’d accept a deal. If his list is mostly of the Atlanta/Washington ilk, the Cubs probably are never going to find a fit unless they luck into some unexpected openings. Given that he’s said “six or seven” teams, I do wonder if it’s still not a hard and fast list, though. We don’t want to get into another Ryan Dempster situation where the Cubs are negotiating with a team to which Soriano wouldn’t really accept a deal.
Here’s a guess on the list, based on Soriano’s criteria, and a presumption that, because he and the Cubs have had talks about this issue, the current list excludes teams that obviously won’t be trading for Soriano absent a horrible rash of injuries (i.e., Nationals, Braves, etc.), as well as teams that obviously won’t be trading for Soriano because they won’t want him (Miami, Houston, etc.):
Chicago White Sox
New York Yankees
New York Mets
Boston Red Sox
Maybe Tampa Bay Rays or Philadelphia Phillies
I think that’s a pretty fair guess on the list, but there are caveats aplenty: I’m just deducing. There are other teams that fit his criteria, and the teams who might have interest in him come, say, July, could be very different from the teams that would have interest in him today.
UPDATE: I hadn’t seen the Sun-Times’ report on Soriano yet, but it looks like my guesses were pretty solid (again, remembering that I excluded teams who likely have no need for Soriano, like the Dodgers). Sources tell the Sun-Times that the list includes the White Sox, the Yankees, the Mets, the Phillies, and the Dodgers.