Alfonso Soriano‘s time with the Chicago Cubs may be coming to a quick and abrupt end. With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline a little over a week away, the Cubs are already willing to eat a significant amount of Soriano’s contract to make him disappear. In addition, the Cubs are not expecting anything in return for Soriano as trading him would be a reward in it’s own. But in the chance that the Cubs are not able to trade Soriano during the season, that does not mean that Soriano has a guaranteed spot on the Cubs’ roster in 2012.
David Kaplan of Comcast Sportsnet reports that the chances of Soriano returning to the Cubs in 2012 are “very slim.” Citing a baseball scout, Kaplan says Soriano’s declining skills is the reason why there is a little chance of him coming back to the Cubs in 2012. Perhaps the most interesting part of Kaplan’s story, is when he mentions that the Cubs have been trying for the past two seasons to trade Soriano. The Cubs may have been trying to trade Soriano in 2009 and 2010, but, I think they realize that this may be the last chance that they have to trade Soriano before he gets even older, and his skills continue to decline.
There are two indicators resulting from this report. The first goes without saying, but, the Cubs are intent on getting rid of Soriano sooner rather than later. Behind the scenes, it is likely that general manager Jim Hendry is pushing a Soriano trade to any American League team that will listen. I would imagine that the Yankees, Indians, and Angels all could have possible interest in the Cubs’ outfielder. The Indians may be the team to watch. The Indians are unlikely to take on major salary at the deadline, however, they still need a run producer in the middle of their lineup–more specifically, an outfielder. If the Cubs are willing absorb most of Soriano’s contract, that would allow the Indians the opportunity to acquire him.
Even if the Cubs do not trade Soriano during the season, that does not rule out an off-season trade. But if the Cubs are not able to trade Soriano now or in the winter, then they may be willing to release him. The Cubs may try to make such a move in August. If Soriano is a member of the Cubs on August 1, you can bet that he will be placed on waivers. Meaning there is a chance–albeit a very small one–that a team can claim Soriano off waivers and take on his contract as well. Again that is not a likely scenario, but, probably the dream scenario for the Cubs. Nonetheless, assuming the Cubs are still willing to consume most of Soriano’s contract this winter, then they may bite bullet and release the aging outfielder.
Many have said that the Cubs will not win the World Series as long as they have Soriano on their team. The time may soon be coming where Soriano is no longer on the team. That would only make the Cubs future look all that brighter. That future could be on display this season if Soriano is traded, as Brett Jackson may be a candidate to take his spot in the outfield. Don’t forget about Tyler Colvin either, who also may be given a starting opportunity if Soriano is traded.