Are the Orioles or Rangers the Better Trade Fit for the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano?
In what comes as a shock to absolutely nobody, Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano remains readily available for a trade.
In his latest column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reminds us of this fact—and that the Cubs are willing to pick up the bulk of the $36 million that remains on his contract, which runs through the 2014 season—for a reasonable return.
Cafardo goes on to point to a pair of contenders in the American League, the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, as possible fits for the 37-year-old veteran.
Soriano, who averaged a .274 batting average, 32 home runs, 98 RBI and 24 stolen bases a season over his two seasons with the Rangers in 2004 and 2005, isn't the same player he was back then.
Because of that, there really isn't a spot for him to get regular playing time in Texas.
David Murphy doesn't have the power that Soriano does, but he's entrenched in left field, while the Rangers signed Lance Berkman to serve as the team's designated hitter.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
It's hard to imagine Soriano being content with part-time duty, and with Rangers über-prospect Jurickson Profar blocked by Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler (who won't be moving to first base), Texas already has a big bat that it can't fit into the lineup.
Those hurdles don't exist in Baltimore, who have been actively trying to land another bat. It was only last week that Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported talks between the Orioles and Arizona about left fielder Jason Kubel:
Sources: #Orioles pursuing trade for #Diamondbacks' Kubel. Talks not at advanced stage. Orioles also like #Tigers' Porcello.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2013
Kubel made sense for Baltimore—Soriano makes even more.
Orioles Park at Camden Yards is one of the more hitter-friendly parks in baseball, especially for sluggers, and the Orioles could easily get Soriano's bat into the lineup.
There are a few ways to accomplish that goal.
Which team is Alfonso Soriano a better fit for?
Baltimore could insert Soriano in place of Nolan Reimold in their left field platoon with Nate McLouth, playing Soriano as the team's designated hitter on days McLouth is playing the field.
Or, the Orioles could make Soriano a full-time designated hitter, replacing Wilson Betemit.
Not only would the latter be an upgrade offensively, but it would afford manager Buck Showalter the opportunity to use the versatile Betemit as a weapon off of the bench.
According to Cafardo, Chicago wants a "player of note" if the Cubs are eating the bulk of the money left on his deal.
That's great in theory, but Soriano isn't a part of the long-term future in Chicago—and the Cubs would be wise to move him now while his value has been boosted.
The Orioles have the pieces to put a deal together.
You'd have to believe that a package built around one of Baltimore's young, underwhelming starters—Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz or Chris Tillman—would certainly pique the interest of a rebuilding Cubs franchise.
If I'm Baltimore, I'd be hesitant to give up Matusz, only because of the promise he showed in the bullpen late last season.
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
But with top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy nearly ready to take a spot in the rotation, the Orioles can afford to move one of those arms in an effort to replace the power void left when Mark Reynolds departed via free agency.
Soriano would be a great fit in Baltimore, not only because of his power, but because of his willingness to work with younger players. Surely, the veteran has a trick or two he could share with the likes of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters, among others.
A trade between the Cubs and Orioles involving Soriano makes sense for both teams and Soriano as well.
Baltimore gets the power bat it needs, Chicago gets additional pieces for the rebuild and Soriano not only gets a chance to play meaningful baseball in October once again, but the chance to potentially extend his career as a designated hitter.
It'd be a deal where everybody wins.
Rick Weiner is a Featured Columnist covering all of MLB.
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