Entering the 2012 season, there were two players that were believed to be on the outside looking in when discussing the direction of the Chicago Cubs organization. Those two players were left fielder Alfonso Soriano and closer Carlos Marmol. Both Soriano and Marmol were believed to be on the outs with the previous regime, and the belief was they would be one of the first victims of the regime change with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer taking control of the Cubs’ baseball department.
We are nearly in the final month of the 2012 season and the likes of Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner, Marlon Byrd, Ryan Dempster, Reed Johnson, Geovany Soto, and Paul Maholm have all been traded over the past year. Notice the two players that were not on that list? Perhaps the two players that every expected to be traded when the 2012 season started. That’s right, Soriano and Marmol–throughout all the rumors and speculation–still hold spots on the Cubs’ 25 man roster. Soriano remains the team’s starting left fielder and Marmol is once again the team’s closer.
The case of Soriano has interested me. Especially because, it seems rather obvious that Soriano would be the likeliest of any Cubs’ player to be a victim of the regime change. Having joined the Cubs’ front office from Boston, when addressing Soriano, Epstein would always suggest that he would have to first observe Soriano on a regular basis. The Soriano that Epstein has observed this season is not the same Soriano that the Cubs fans have observed. The biggest reason is that Soriano’s 2012 season is similar to Pre-2007 Soriano, which played a factor in off-season of 2006 when the left fielder signed an eight year, $136 million contract with the Cubs.
Even though Soriano has cooled during the month of August, the veteran slugger is hitting .263/.319/.487 this season to go along with 22 home runs and 76 RBIs. Not only has Soriano been a productive offensive player with the Cubs this season, the left fielder has also been a respectable fielder this season. That is sentence that many Cubs fans thought would never be said. With Soriano’s increased production this season, it seemed to have increase speculation that the Cubs would finally be able to trade Soriano.
But I would imagine that when Epstein evaluates Soriano, he does not see an overpaid left fielder that needs to be on the next train out of town. Rather, as a result of this season, Epstein sees a player in Soriano that could keep the position warm for when the likes of Jorge Soler, Matt Szczur, and Albert Almora are ready to take the reigns. That is why it should come as no surprise to see reports like the one from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times that suggests that Soriano will open the 2013 season with the Cubs. There will be a time to trade Soriano, but the time–surprisingly–is not now.
Wittenmyer’s report also suggests that Marmol will begin the 2013 season with the Cubs, and that is the likely result of Marmol being owed $9.8 million in 2o13, which is the final year of his contract.