Alfonso Soriano has been the subject of trade rumors throughout this offseason, and now the Cubs are starting to give careful consideration as to what they are looking for in return. Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports that the Cubs expect a top-tier player in return for Soriano, in light of his success in 2012 as a leader and a hitter.
Trading Soriano, though, would be a mistake for the very reasons that they want a name-player to replace him. Soriano is too valuable as a bat and more importantly, as a leader, to lose.
The Cubs are a club in complete rebuilding mode, having finished with a 61-101 record, near the bottom of the league in nearly every major statistical category. The Cubs were a horror show, finishing 28th in runs and 24th in team ERA. They are unset at nearly every position.
That being said, there are some players always worth keeping. Soriano is one of those players. As Cubs' President Theo Epstein has begun to realize, at least according to Cafardo, Soriano is well-regarded in the locker room and is a valued leader.
Further, Soriano had a great season in 2012 with 32 home runs and 108 RBI. To be sure, Soriano was not the problem in Chicago, both as a leader and as a hitter.
This young franchise will need that leadership and that bat to escape the cellar.
Examining the Cubs' roster, most of the top talent is fairly young. Guys like Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Starlin Castro are all either young or new to the team. Further, the Cubs' roster will feature a lot of turnover after their struggles in 2012. The stability and leadership that a guy like Soriano brings could be the glue needed to help the Cubs' new look succeed.
With Epstein's high opinion of Soriano, finding a team willing to meet the Cubs' price will be hard, if not impossible. The Cubs absolutely cannot settle for anything less than a star, though. Otherwise, the club must stick with Soriano to help lead the team into the next generation.