The Chicago Cubs have had an impressive off-season. The team has signed two free agent starting pitchers in Scott Baker and Scott Feldman, both of whom are expected to benefit from a transition to the National League. The Cubs continued their off-season success on Saturday when the team signed Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa. The Cubs are expected to be among the active teams this week in Nashville as the annual winter meetings begin on Monday and last until Thursday. The signing of Fujikawa likely means that the Cubs will shop closer Carlos Marmol this week, though, Marmol will not be the only player on the Cubs being discussed in trade talks with other teams this week.
This certainly is not breaking news but the Cubs will shop left fielder Alfonso Soriano this week at the winter meetings. Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports that the Cubs expect to meet with interested teams this week in hopes of finding a potential trade that includes Soriano. Morosi echoes a sentiment that has been said said numerous times this off-season, and this that this winter might be the most realistic opportunity that the Cubs have at trading Soriano than in previous seasons. In the report, Morosi suggests that the Philadelphia Phillies could be interested in Soriano. The Phillies were involved in the bidding for B.J. Upton before Upton signed with the Atlanta Braves.
Soriano is coming off a MVP-worthy performance in 2012. The 36 year old Soriano hit .262/.322/.499/.821 this season with the Cubs to go along with a team-high 32 home runs as well as leading the team in RBIs with 108. Soriano’s production in 2012 has undoubtedly improved his trade value. Prior to this off-season, the thought was that the Cubs would only be limited to American League teams because of Soriano’s aging knees. Soriano’s knees proved not to be of concern in 2012 as the veteran had one of his best defensive seasons of his career. Soriano was so good on defense during the 2012 season that it warranted some to suggest that the left fielder be nominated for a gold glove.
The hurdle to trading Soriano remains the same. Soriano has two years left on his contract and earns $18 million in both 2013 and 2014. Soriano also has a full-no trade clause which the left fielder has already used to his benefit in blocking a trade to the World Series winning San Francisco Giants last season. The Cubs are not going to trade Soriano for the mere purpose of making a trade. The Cubs are willing to eat a majority of the $36 million left on Soriano’s contract, but only if the team receives what they determine to be a quality return. That scenario is certainly more possible this winter than it was at any time before.