Remember when Alfonso Soriano went homerless during his first 30-games this season? Or how he painfully hobbled around the outfield for five weeks after fouling a pitch off his knee in mid-May?
Now look at him. Since hitting his first long ball on May 15 he’s third in the majors in home runs (29) and one of only two players in the National League with at least 29 HR & 100-plus RBI, Ryan Braun being the other.
Soriano’s 101 RBI are his most with the Cubs in his six-seasons played on the North Side. It’s also good for the eighth most RBI in all of baseball this year, and third most in the NL behind Braun & Chase Headley (each have 104, which is Soriano’s career-high).
Alfonso is also in the NL’s Top 5 in HR, of which half (15) have come with men on base. Additionally, he’s in the Top 25 in doubles (30) and Top 30 in OPS (.811).
His 15 game-winning RBI, 28 go-ahead RBI and 38 two-out RBI leads the Cubs–there’s not even a close second. And let’s not forget his defense this season is worthy of Gold Glove consideration, as well.
So here’s the rub. What should the Cubs do with Soriano this offseason? Do the Cubs eat a good portion of his remaining 2-yr, $18M dollar salary and trade him for prospects…or do you retain his services for at least another season with the expectation he’ll put up similar numbers in 2013?
Keeping Soriano isn’t all bad for the sake of putting a better product on the field next year, which the Cubs need to do. But dealing him obviously opens up roster space in the outfield to evaluate younger players who may, or may not, be part of the long-term rebuilding plans.
The real trouble with parting from Soriano is how on earth do the Cubs replace his production? Chances are, they don’t.
So it’s a tricky spot for Team Theo weighing the pro’s of dealing Soriano to further the rebuilding movement vs. the con’s of weakening the product on the field in 2013.
My gut feeling is Epstein and Hoyer trade Soriano. What yours?