With the season officially over for the Chicago Cubs, the speculating has begun as to which direction they could take this offseason as far as transactions are concerned.
As of right now, a trade of Alfonso Soriano looks like it will be a focal point of the winter for the Cubs. They attempted to trade him both prior to and after the non-waiver deadline earlier this summer, but failed. This winter should see those efforts escalate, and Soriano will likely finish off his contract elsewhere.
Interest certainly grew after the year Soriano had. His average was still a touch low, but he was third in the National League in runs batted in and continued to put up big power numbers. On top of that, his fielding was also extremely improved, with just one error on the season.
The improved glove could lead some NL teams to have interest in the left fielder, but an American League team still seems to be the far more likely avenue. As impressive as he was in 2012, Soriano’s streaky tendencies and his old knees could certainly limit the market for him.
But who is the most likely candidate to acquire Alfonso Soriano?
At this point, the Tampa Bay Rays could be the top suitor. The Rays have a deep farm system that the Cubs would probably love to pull from. We’re not talking about top tier prospects, but the fact that the Cubs will probably be paying most or all of his remaining salary will help them to get someone respectable.
The Rays are going to have a vacancy at the DH spot, assuming they let Luke Scott walk in free agency. With the Cubs paying such a large chunk of Soriano’s contract and his ability to play left field much better than previously thought, the Rays could be a prime location for him. Not to mention, they may need the extra power in the lineup if B.J. Upton bolts.
If it’s not the Rays, then the Cleveland Indians could be the next suitor in line. They need all of the help they can get scoring runs, and Soriano could be a very nice addition for them.
Regardless of his destination, expect Alfonso Soriano to be heavily shopped this winter. It’d be very surprising to see him still with the Cubs by the time the 2013 campaign rolls around.