By Paul Sullivan
8:13 AM CDT, October 15, 2012
Before the final game of the season, Alfonso Soriano said he's ready for the trade rumors to start this winter.
The next day, Cubs President Theo Epstein said he doesn't believe people "get an accurate picture of (Soriano) watching him across the field," lauding his work ethic and quiet leadership in the clubhouse.
"We're happy that he's here," Epstein said. "I think he makes us a better organization."
So should we expect Soriano to be on the trade block again, or has the new regime come to believe Soriano can be part of the organization in the early stages of the rebuilding mode?
It probably depends on how much interest there is in Soriano, who led the team in home runs and RBIs while making great strides in his defensive play in left field.
The best chance of dealing Soriano is if an American League team wants to use him as a DH, though the Giants were interested at the trade deadline until Soriano declined to waive his no-trade rights, killing any chance of a deal.
"If teams pursue him in a trade, we'll consider it," Epstein said. "We'll see if it makes our future better, makes us a better organization going forward. But he's got value to us. He helps us win games, is protection in the lineup, and he's a great example for other younger players in the clubhouse to follow. So if we trade him, we're losing something, so we have to get something back in return to justify it.
"If that opportunity comes along and (a team) is very serious about acquiring him, then we'll go to him because he has 10-5 rights."
It's easy to see Soriano as a DH because of his age (37) and his limited range in left field. But it's not easy for Soriano to see it, and he can block any move for any reason. He likes to be involved in the game, even if he's not the greatest outfielder. Soriano performed well as a DH this year but said that's irrelevant.
"People see that, but they don't (consider) it was only six-eight games I batted DH," he said. "I don't know what I could do the whole season. To me, playing DH is boring. You only play like half (the game). I always play defense and offense, so I'd always have to work hard on my mind – 'Now I'm an offense guy only."
Soriano has been though a lot in his six years in Chicago, from the division championships of 2007 and '08 to the 101-loss season this year. Through it all, he's been the most accommodating player in the clubhouse, never refusing an interview request or blowing off the media.
"I just come from New York and I saw how those veterans guys -- (Derek) Jeter, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez -- handled it. I just love those guys. This game is up and down all the time, and I don't want to like tiptoe around the media just when I'm doing good. When I'm doing bad, it's the same."
The Cubs could use more players like Soriano in the clubhouse, though it would make sense to trade him now while his value is relatively high.