Continuing from this morning's season preview of the Chicago Cubs…
Quite a few for a 101-loss team. But the big one is: will the Cubs keep or trade Alfonso Soriano?
Soriano's status with the Cubs is one of the more contested points giong into the 2013 season. Chicago recieved some interest on Soriano this winter, and I'm sure they'd love to dump him off on another team, opening up left field for a younger player while receiving some talent in return and shedding some (but not all) of his contract from the payroll. But will Soriano even get traded?
The Cubs have been linked to numerous teams when it comes to dealing Soriano. The Phillies had interest earlier this winter. The Yankees are getting consistently mentioned alongside Soriano's name after Curtis Granderson broke his forearm last week. Other teams that Soriano would be interested in include the White Sox, Dodgers, and Mets. You can immediately cross the Dodgers off of the list due to their glut of outfielders, and excluding the White Sox seems like it would make sense too. The Phillies don't seem like much of a match anymore either. So that leaves the Yankees and Mets going into the season, and whoever else needs an outfielder come July.
The Yankees would be silly to pursue someone like Soriano right now. When Granderson comes back, they'd have a glut of outfielders, forcing someone (likely Soriano) to the DH position…but they've already got several players that are older with injury problems, where DH could be a caddy for them in case of an aggravated injury. That could lead to a situation where someone like Brett Gardner, a fantastic defender who is average with the bat, is forced to the bench, damaging the overall productiveness of the Yankees outfield. Now, if someone *else* gets hurt on the Yankees throughout the spring or summer, Soriano might be a better match.
That leaves the Mets, and let's be honest, why would they want to take on extra salary just to fill a (very huge) hole in the outfield? Yeah, the Mets outfield stinks, but what good would Soriano do for them? He's not the missing piece of the puzzle, he's not a future building block, he's a luxury, and that's something the Mets don't need right now. Sure, they'd get better, They'd still be a fourth place team in the NL East, but dammit, they'd have a recognizable name in the outfield, and isn't that the most important part about baseball?
If the Cubs do end up trading Soriano, it won't be before the season starts, it'll be at the trade deadline. Simply put, there's not a great match for Soriano right now, but that doesn't mean there won't be one in four months. But there's also the chance that after a resurgent 2012, Soriano's production could fall off to his 2011 levels, and his trade value will be completely dead in the water. That's one of the gambles you take with an older player coming off of a great season, but to be fair to the Cubs, teams weren't exactly hammering down their door trying to acquire Soriano.