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Alfonso Soriano and His Aging Knees Are Running Out Of Time

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June 2, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano (12) hits a double against the San Francisco Giants in the fourth inning at AT

Every season the same sentiment is echoed about Chicago Cubs starting left fielder Alfonso Soriano. Those sentiments being that Soriano’s knees are aging by the day and the time is quickly coming where the veteran left fielder will no longer be able to play the field. Being that the Cubs are a National League team, the team is bound to be in a predicament when Soriano’s knees refrain him from playing left field. The issue is that Soriano is still owed around $45 million over the course of the next three seasons. 45 million reasons why Soriano will never become a full-time reserve player for the Cubs.

What can the Cubs do to save face?

That is question that Cubs fans have been asking for the past three seasons. But the 2012 season, with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer now in charge of the Cubs’ baseball department, appears to be the first season where there is a realistic chance that the Cubs finally part ways with the over-price veteran outfielder.

Reports have suggested that the Cubs have been shopping Soriano since the early portions of the season. The belief is that before the Cubs traded Marlon Byrd to the Boston Red Sox for reliever Michael Bowden, Epstein initially offered Soriano to the Red Sox. The Red Sox wanted nothing to do with Soriano. It would appear that the other 29 Major League Baseball teams hold the same stance with Soriano.

However, Soriano is looking to play for a contender again before his playing days conclude. Soriano told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times that he is open to being traded to a contender.

"“I’m 36 years old, so, yeah, I would like to have the opportunity to … if they want to trade me, I hope it is to a team that’s a contender because it’s about trying to go for that ring,” Soriano said before the Cubs’ third consecutive loss. “You want to feel good, feel like maybe you got a chance for that if we don’t have a chance here. But like I said, it depends on them. I don’t control the situation.” Chicago Sun Times"

This is nothing that Soriano hasn’t said in the past. In recent seasons, Soriano has told reporters that he wants to feel wanted by an organization. If the front office approaches Soriano with a trade, that would signal to the left fielder that organization no longer wants him. Meaning Soriano, who possess a no trade clause, would hold no objections to being traded.

But unless a miracle happens, I do not see how the Cubs would be able to trade Soriano this season. In my opinion, there is only one option for the Cubs and Soriano. That option would include Epstein and Hoyer convincing Soriano to go on the disabled list and undergoing surgery on his left knee. The same knee that Soriano had arthroscopic surgery on during the final month of the 2009 season. Soriano has already hinted that he is likely going to have surgery on his left knee in the off-season. But watching Soriano in left field this season, it is clear that the veteran is playing on one knee. In a season that is supposed to mark the beginning of the Cubs building for the long-term future, Soriano and his Knees are providing a detour from that project.

If the Cubs front office is able to convince Soriano to undergo surgery on his left knee, that would allow for the team to move Bryan LaHair to left fielder and promote Anthony Rizzo to play first base everyday at the Major League level. Then, in the off-season, the Cubs would officially cut ties with Soriano and release the left fielder. Granted that would mean that the Cubs would be on the hook for $36 million, the impact would be no different than if the Cubs were somehow able to trade Soriano.

Soriano may love to play baseball, but his presence on the field is hindering Cubs fans from their love of the idea that the team is finally rebuilding.