Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has two years remaining on the eight-year deal that brought him to Chicago before the 2007 season. While many fans believe that Soriano has not lived up to the $136 million the Cubs agreed to pay him, he has been a consistent run-producer for the team when healthy over the past six seasons. Furthermore, he had one of his best years in 2012 and was the team's offensive MVP.
With Soriano owed $19 million in each of the next two seasons, the Cubs will have a big decision to make this offseason. Trading him would free up a spot for a younger player, but the team would probably have to pick up most of the salary to do so. Therefore, if the Cubs are paying him, keeping him around to help rebuild should also be considered as an option.
Soriano hit .262 with 32 home runs and 108 RBIs in 2012. Only six outfielders hit more home runs than Soriano, and only three had more RBIs. He is still a really good player who could fit in nicely with a number of different teams. The Cubs would likely not have to work too hard to move him, assuming they pay most of the final $38 million. Quite a few American League teams could use Soriano at the designated hitter spot.
On the other hand, I am not sure that the Cubs should be so anxious to move Soriano. It made sense to pay salaries while moving players like Carlos Zambrano, who brought so much drama to the clubhouse. Soriano has seemed to be a positive influence on younger players for the most part.
Also, it would make more sense to me if the Cubs had a younger player who definitely needed Soriano's spot in the outfield. However, it could be a while before the team has a top prospect ready to take over. Both Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, for example, only recently joined the organization and still need work in the minors. Soler finished at A-Peoria and hit .299, while Almora hit .321 and ended the year at A-Boise.
If the Cubs are blown away by a trade offer, or if another team is willing to pay most of the salary, then I could see moving Soriano during this rebuilding phase. Then again, I do not think the team should just be paying him to leave.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.