Theo Epstein talked about Alfonso Soriano on Thursday and had nothing but good things to say abut the Cubs outfielder. When Epstein took over as general manager of the Cubs, he assumed he'd have to deal with an expensive player in decline. He spoke about his feelings on Soriano when he took over, via CSN Chicago:
"Coming in here, I actually had a little trepidation about how we would handle him and the contract, and if his skills declined, how we would handle playing time. I’ll be honest – it wasn’t something I was really looking forward to."
"Those concerns proved to be completely baseless. What a pleasant surprise. He turned out to be as great a clubhouse guy as there is in the game. He couldn’t have been a better role model for our young players, demonstrating how to prepare for each game, how to be a good teammate, how to be a consistent big-leaguer, how to care about one another, how to care about winning, how to take care of one’s body to get out there just about every day."
Epstein also talked about the possibility of trading Soriano, and what he'd be looking for in return should a team be interested in bringing him in:
"If we trade him, we’re losing something, so we have to get something back in return to justify that. If that opportunity comes along and a team is very serious about acquiring him, then we’ll go to him and it will be up to him."
Soriano batted .262 on the season, and he had a .322 on base percentage. He had excellent power numbers, hitting 32 homeruns to go along with 108 RBI. His homerun total saw him finish fifth in the National League, and his RBI total was good enough for third.
Soriano has two more seasons remaining on the contract that he signed before the 2007 season, and he'll be paid $18 million for each of those two seasons. His contract also contains a full no-trade clause if Epstein considers dealing the outfielder.