(MCT) — MESA, Ariz. — When the Cubs signed Alfonso Soriano to his eight-year, $136 million deal after the 2006 season, they figured he would help them win it all before the final two seasons, making it worth the added years.
Now that Soriano is entering the penultimate year of his contract, he’s considered an expenditure that doesn’t fit in with the rebuilding project that has targeted 2015 as the year the Cubs begin contending annually.
But the Cubs haven’t been able to move Soriano, despite their willingness to eat a good part of the remaining $36 million. They had a chance to work out a deal with the Giants last summer, but Soriano declined to give his consent under his no-trade rights.
The Giants wound up winning the World Series, while the Cubs finished with 101 losses. Soriano said he “didn’t expect the San Francisco Giants to win the World Series with the team” they had. But he said he doesn’t regret his decision.
“I don’t want to go a place I don’t feel comfortable,” he said. “I’m very happy they won the World Series, but my point is I want to go someplace I feel comfortable. ... (The Cubs) know what teams (he’d go to). My agent talked to those guys, and we’ll see what happens. But the most important thing is I’m here and I’m happy here.”
Soriano said there are six or seven teams in the East or Central divisions of either league he’d agree to go to in a trade. But for now Soriano’s teammates are glad he’s back, as is manager Dale Sveum.
“I consider him a friend now as much as somebody I manage,” Sveum said, adding Soriano is one of the top five people he has been around in the game.
If the Cubs want him here and he wants to stay, wouldn’t it benefit Soriano to just tell him he’s not going to be dealt? Or is that an option the Cubs always have to keep open?
“We need his 30 home runs and 108 RBIs in our lineup,” Sveum said. “Whatever happens on the business side, that’s part of baseball. ... It didn’t affect him too much last year, so that kind of answers that (question) itself.”
Soriano said he thinks the Cubs can be “much better” in 2013. But if they aren’t, he said he wants to go to a team with a chance to contend.
“At my age, I don’t want to be part of a losing team,” he said. “I hope we start good and everybody stays healthy and sends a message because I believe in this team with the people that we’ve got.
“My point is I signed here to win the World Series. I don’t want to go somewhere else and win. But if we have a bad start I have to think about moving somewhere else because I think there’s no more than two years left in my career.”
Soriano said he will be far from baseball when he retires, though he joked he could always buy a team with former teammate Derek Jeter. Reminded on Monday he told reporters after signing in 2006 that he would throw a party for them, Soriano laughed.
“Let’s wait until next year,” he said. “See when I’m in the last year of my contract.”
Will he still be with the Cubs?
“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll see.”