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Cubs’ Epstein, Soriano discuss trade options

Updated: July 24, 2013 5:21PM



PHOENIX — The Cubs could be on the verge of the watershed moment in the Theo Epstein regime’s overhaul of the organization as they talk to multiple teams, including the New York Yankees, about a possible trade involving Alfonso Soriano.

Soriano, the $136 million face of the franchise’s last all-in playoff push, was to meet with Epstein to discuss the “options” involving possible destinations and his conditions for waiving his no-trade rights.

“There’s a process with these types of trades,’’ Epstein said Tuesday night. ‘‘We’re relatively early in the process. I’ll outline his options: exercising his no-trade rights, the various teams that have interest in him.’’

Epstein said reports early Tuesday that the Cubs were close to a deal with the Yankees were wrong, confirming what multiple sources on both sides said throughout the day.

The Yankees see Soriano as a valuable addition for the final stretch to a lineup in desperate need of right-handed production, a source said. But they’re trying to determine his value through a contract that still has one more year left — in terms of the quality of prospect they’d give up and how much of the remaining $25 million they’re willing to take.

Epstein said the Yankees are just one of multiple teams asking about Soriano and weren’t the first to call.

A return to old times — and his original team — for Soriano would represent the final, biggest break for the Cubs from the spending spree in 2006-07 that produced back-to-back division titles as Tribune Co. prepared the team for sale.

Only Jeff Samardzija — then a little-used rookie reliever — would be left from those who were on either playoff roster. And nobody with no-trade rights would be left on the roster.

Soriano, 37, said his agent only informed him on Monday that the Cubs called him to deliver the news of the Yankees’ interest — the only team he was told was in talks with the Cubs.

“Everybody knows that organization opened the door for me in the big leagues, and it’s a great organization,” said Soriano, who would not say whether he’d waive his no-trade rights to return. “So it’s not like something new for me. I’ve been there before. I enjoyed my time when I was with the Yankees.”

The Yankees are in fourth place in the American League East and were seven games behind division-leading Boston entering play Tuesday.

Soriano told the Sun-Times on Sunday that’s a factor in approving a trade.

“They are the Yankees. They always make the playoffs,” he said Tuesday, “no matter what team they have, no matter what pitching they got. They find a way. It’s one of the best organizations in baseball.”

A bigger decision at this point in his career might be what his playing time will look like going into next year.

“I don’t want to play, for example, four or three games a week,” said Soriano, who would be fine with a role splitting time between the outfield and DH. “If I’m healthy, I like to play every day.”

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said a trade would leave a major hole in his lineup and in the clubhouse.

“Even if he’s struggling, he’s still feared around the league,” Sveum said. “You’ve still got to make pitches to him. And he’s one of the more professional, hardworking veteran players that I’ve ever been around, a guy players look up to.

“Those things are hard to replace on a team. Even though he’s not a vocal guy, you would lose a lot in that kind of capacity. Especially with a guy like [rookie] Junior Lake being here right now. To lose that kind of role model is kind of huge.”



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