With “Garza Watch” coming to an end Monday, most of the trade rumors surrounding the Chicago Cubs will now be focused on Alfonso Soriano. Soriano has no trade rights, so he will have the opportunity to veto any trade, much like he did in 2012 when the Cubs tried to deal him to the San Francisco Giants. It seems however that 2013 may finally be the year Soriano is traded, given his recent hot streak and comments that he doesn’t want to play for the Cubs if they “don’t want me”. This gives the indication that Soriano won’t be as quick to veto a trade to a contender this year, but his huge contract will still make negotiating a trade a tall task. All of these moving parts will be the centerpiece of the hottest new drama on the north side of Chicago, “Soriano watch 2013”. Time to explore how things may play out.
There has been recent speculation of a trade that would send Soriano to the Yankees, several sources even indicated that the two sides were “close” to making the deal, however Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said the rumors were being exaggerated and talks were still in the early stages. It comes as no surprise that the Yankees are in the market for a power bat given the losses of Granderson, Jeter and A-Rod for most of this season so it will be interesting to see how much they are willing to give up for Soriano. It could be more than anticipated since A-Rod might be lost for the rest of the season amidst the Biogenisis scandal, but ultimately the quality of prospect the Cubs receive for Soriano will hinge largely on how much of his remaining contract they are willing to pay.
Soriano won’t bring back a haul like Garza did, but the Cubs could get a decent prospect who is close to major-league ready if they absorb a majority of his remaining contract. One such prospect the Cubs have been eying is Chase Whitley, a reliever currently pitching for the Yankees AAA affiliate. Whitley has respectable numbers in AAA this year posting a 3.52 ERA and 8.7 K/9 ratio, and could help out a Cubs bullpen that severely lacks talent. The Yankees are said to be rich with relievers in their minor league system, so they may be more willing to part with a talented young arm than most other clubs. This is good news for the Cubs because the front office has been trying to stock up on young pitching to go along with it’s slew of talented position players.
There are multiple other teams involved in the Soriano talks according to Hoyer, so it is hard to say where he will end up at this point. The Orioles and Indians were both thought to be players for Soriano at one point so perhaps one of them will eventually become desperate enough to give up a good prospect and take on some of his salary.
It’s always a guessing game when it comes to predicting trades, and when Soriano is the player on the block smart money says he won’t be going anywhere. Things appear to be different this time, with the Cubs already having moved Garza along with Carlos Marmol, Scott Feldman and Scott Hairston but Epstein and Hoyer have made it clear they will not settle for a lesser deal just to move him. The coming days should be interesting as teams become more and more desperate leading up to the July 31st deadline and Soriano could be the next big-name Cub to be on the move.